Overweight trends among Polish schoolchildren before and after the transition from communism to capitalism

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Abstract

This study aims to reveal the secular trends in body mass index (BMI) and the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Polish schoolchildren between the years 1966–2012, during which intense socio-political changes took place. Four surveys were conducted in several districts of Poland looking at 69,746 schoolchildren aged 7–18. Significant increase in mean BMI as well as in the prevalence of overweight and obesity was observed. During this time the highest increase in both mean BMI and excess weight was observed between 1988 and 2012, i.e. after the political transformation, resulting in the improvement of living conditions. However, with respect to girls in late adolescence, between these years, the mean BMI as well as the prevalence of overweight were leveling off, while the percentage of boys with excess body fat in the same developmental category significantly increased in 2012. In the years 1966–1978 and 1978–1988 the pattern of changes in the prevalence of overweight and obesity reflected the social and economic circumstances, i.e. temporary economic improvements, or deepening political crises and food shortage. In conclusion, the weight status of schoolchildren strongly reflects socio-political changes that took place in Poland, as well as in most of the Central European countries in the last half century.

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