Publications & Reports

Association of dietary intake, physical activity, and sedentary behaviours with overweight and obesity among 282,213 adolescents in 89 low and middle income to high-income countries.

Mahumud RA, Sahle BW, Owusu-Addo E, Chen W, Morton RL, Renzaho AMN
Faculty of Medicine and Health, NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre, The University of Sydney, Camperdown, NSW, Australia. [email protected]


BACKGROUND: Adolescent overweight and obesity are well documented in high-income countries (HICs). They are also emerging as a global public health concern in low-and middle-income countries (LMICs), yet there is a lack of reliable, national-level data to inform policies and interventions. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity and assess associated lifestyle risk factors amongst school-going adolescents in LMICs as well as HICs. METHODS: A total of 282,213 samples were drawn from 89 LMICs and HICs in the ‘latest Global School-based Student Health Survey’ of school children, aged 11-17 years, during 2003 to 2015, in the six World Health Organisation (WHO) regions. The prevalence of adolescent overweight and obesity were estimated using the WHO BMI-for-age growth standards. A multinomial logistic regression model was employed to estimate the adjusted (age and sex) association of food patterns, physical activity, and sedentary behaviours with adolescent overweight and obesity. RESULTS: The pooled prevalence of overweight and obesity amongst adolescents was 10.12%, and 4.96%, respectively, ranging from 2.40% in Sri Lanka to 29.08% in Niue for overweight and 0.40% in Sri Lanka to 34.66% in the Cook Islands for obesity. Overweight and obesity were associated with unhealthy dietary intake and lifestyles including respectively fast-food intake (adjusted relative risk ratio, RRR = 1.09; 95% CI: 1.05-1.12 and RRR = 1.32; 95% CI: 1.26-1.38), a high level of carbonated soft drinks consumption (RRR = 1.19; 1.12-1.24 and RRR = 1.28; 1.18-1.38), a low level of physical activity (RRR = 1.11; 1.06-1.17 and 1.20; 1.12-1.28), and high level of sedentary behaviours (RRR = 1.33; 1.27-1.39 and RRR = 1.73; 1.63-1.84). Adolescents who consumed vegetables at least two times per day had a lower risk of overweight (22%) and obesity (17%) than those who did not consume vegetables per day. CONCLUSIONS: Adolescent overweight and obesity represent a global public health problem and can possibly track into adult weight status and morbidity. School-based obesity prevention that promotes environmental and policy changes related to healthy dietary practices and active living are urgently needed to curb the trend.

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  • Journal: International Journal of Obesity
  • Published: 17/07/2021
  • Volume: 45
  • Pagination: 2404–2418