• Vol. 42 No. 2, 66–72
  • 15 February 2013

Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Chinese Preschoolers in Singapore



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Introduction: This study examines the prevalence of overweight and obesity in 6- to 72-month-old Chinese preschoolers in Singapore using 3 references.

Materials and Methods: This was a population-based cross-sectional study of 3009 Chinese preschoolers aged 6 to 72 months from southwestern and western parts of Singapore. Overweight and obesity were defined by using the Center for Disease Control (CDC) (85th and 95th percentile, respectively), the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) and the local National Health Group Polyclinics (NHGP), Singapore (90th and 97th percentile, respectively) references.

Results: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in 24 to 72 months old Chinese children were 8.1% and 7.1% (the CDC reference), 7.6% and 3.9% (the IOTF reference) and 7.5% and 5.3% (the local reference [NHGP]) respectively. For preschoolers aged 6 to 72 months, the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 7.0% and 5.3%, respectively, using the local reference. An increasing trend in the prevalence of obesity with increasing age was seen in both genders, using the CDC and IOTF references (P ≤0.001 and 0.001, respectively). The boys were more likely to be obese than the girls using the CDC reference (OR = 1.42, 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.97, P = 0.03).

Conclusion: Our study showed a lower prevalence of overweight and obesity among Chinese preschoolers in Singapore when compared to other countries like the United States, Italy, Chile using the CDC and/or IOTF references. The CDC reference overestimated whereas the IOTF reference underestimated the prevalence of overweight and obesity for our population when compared to using the local NHGP reference.

The increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity and its associated adverse health outcomes have become an important health issue. Childhood obesity can persist into adulthood and increases the risk of cardiovascular metabolic diseases, giving rise to an increased healthcare burden. In Singapore, the prevalence of obesity for adults aged 18 to 69 years was 5.7%. The prevalence of obesity for preschool children in Singapore
has not been reported whereas the prevalence of obesity in preschool children in several other countries have been reported. Therefore, the magnitude of childhood overweight and obesity in Singapore is still unclear, and this has limited the comparison of obesity prevalence among local preschool children with other countries. This information can also provide impetus for the development of effective prevention strategies for the local childhood overweight and obesity trend.

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