Childhood obesity: international secondary data analysis

In recent years there has been a decrease in the prevalence of child malnutrition leading to an increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity. This health problem brings immediate consequences for the child, but also for the future adult: overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults and thus experience impaired health outcomes such as cardiovascular diseases or type-2 diabetes. Thus, it is important to study obesity during childhood and adolescence to understand how to prevent it. Collecting new data is a complex process, and whenever there is good-quality data available, using it is a cost-effective option.


To estimate the frequency and to assess the determinants of childhood obesity in resource-limited settings in Peru. Also, whenever possible, to extend the results to include children from other developing countries.


This study includes secondary analyzes of open data from an international study: Young Lives, which is a prospective cohort study that began in 2002 in four developing countries (Peru, India, Ethiopia and Vietnam). In each country the study included two cohorts: younger and older cohort. The first included infants aged 6-18 months, and the second included children aged 7-8 years. To date there have been three follow-ups: in 2006, 2009 and 2013. The final evaluation will take place in 2016. The data collected in this study is freely available on its website.
Secondary analyzes included cross-sectional and prospective analyzes. The main topic of interest is childhood obesity and some of its determinants as the socio-economic status of the family, and others which have gained importance in recent years: sleep duration or type of delivery (C-section). The study also included analysis to assess what effects have some social programs on the weight of children and their mothers.


To date, the secondary analysis study has recorded three publications. In the first study it concluded that the prevalence of obesity is different in the four countries, being higher in Peru. In addition, there appears to be no association between short sleep duration (less than recommended for age) and higher frequency of obesity; the effect diminishes even more when evaluated in conjunction with other variables of the children environment (socio-economic status, mother’s education, etc.).
Furthermore, the secondary analysis study revealed that children who were born by Caesarean section, compared to those who were not, showed increased risk of developing obesity but not overweight. Similarly, the risk estimates decreased when variables that characterize the child’s environment, such as socio-economic level, were included. Then, the secondary analysis study assessed the effect of socio-economic status in obesity and found that children at the highest socio-economic level are at higher risk of developing overweight and obesity compared to their peers in the lowest socio-economic level. Finally, the secondary analysis study has found that participation in two social programs (glass of milk or community kitchens) has a different effect on the weight of the children and their mother: the first program decreases the weight of children, while the second increases the weight of mothers.


Rodrigo M. Carrillo Larco


Lima, Perú


CRONICAS Centre of Exellence in Chronic Diseases, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia



Research team

Rodrigo M. Carrillo-Larco, University Peruana Cayetano Heredia
Antonio Bernabé-Ortiz, MD, MPH
J. Jaime Miranda, MD, McS, PhD