International Journal of Obesity (2004) 28, 451–458. doi:10.1038/sj.ijo.0802549 Published online 25 November 2003

Short-term predictors of overweight in early adolescence

S C Savva1, Y Kourides1, M Epiphaniou-Savva1, M Tornaritis1 and A Kafatos2

  1. 1Research and Education Foundation of Child Health, Cyprus
  2. 2Preventive Medicine and Nutrition Clinic, Department of Social Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Crete, Greece

Correspondence: SC Savva, 138 Limassol Ave., #205, Strovolos 2015, Cyprus. E-mail:

Received 29 May 2003; Revised 1 October 2003; Accepted 14 October 2003; Published online 25 November 2003.



OBJECTIVE: To identify short-term predictors of risk for overweight in early adolescence in a sample of Caucasian origin subjects, in Cyprus.

SUBJECTS: A total of 357 subjects (178 males) with baseline age 11.5plusminus0.4 y were re-evaluated after a mean of 1.6plusminus0.5 y.

MEASUREMENTS: Body weight and height, calculated body mass index (BMI), and blood pressure at baseline and follow-up. Serum lipids were determined at baseline. Obesity and overweight were defined at baseline and follow-up, according to the International Obesity Task Force data set. Socioeconomic class was determined. Self-reported parental weight and height were used to calculate the parental BMI. BMI tracking and changes in BMI categories were calculated (with 95% confidence interval (CI)). The future risk of overweight in baseline normal weight subjects was predicted using logistic regression analyses, where only normal weight subjects at baseline were included.

RESULTS: More males remained in the overweight or obese category than females: 86.7% (95% CI: 73.2, 94.9) vs 71.8% (95% CI: 55.1, 85.0), respectively, P=0.03. The identified predictors for future overweight were paternal obesity, odds ratio (OR): 7.1 (95% CI: 1.3, 38.0), systolic blood pressure >95th percentile, OR: 8.9 (95% CI: 1.9, 41.7), high triglyceride levels, OR: 4.2 (95% CI: 1.0, 16.9) and low HDL-cholesterol levels, OR: 7.6 (95% CI: 1.7, 34.3).

CONCLUSIONS: Triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol levels have been proved predictors for overweight in early adolescence for the first time. The different sex pattern in BMI tracking observed, and also the different environmental influences on future overweight risk compared to other studies, indicate that local circumstances should be considered when implementing national intervention strategies for the prevention of obesity.


overweight, obesity, predictors, children, adolescence



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