Risk Factors for Overweight and Obesity in Children Attending the First Year of Primary Schools in Modena, Italy

  • Stefania PaduanoEmail author
  • Lucia Borsari
  • Chiara Salvia
  • Simona Arletti
  • Alberto Tripodi
  • Jenny Pinca
  • Paola Borella
Original Paper


Over the last four decades, childhood overweight/obesity has dramatically increased, becoming a significant public health concern. The main aims of this study were to investigate the prevalence of overweight/obesity among first-year primary schools children in Modena and to identify the associated risk factors. Data were collected on the socio-demographic characteristics of family and weight, height, dietary habits and sedentary behaviours of the children, and on the parents’ perception of their child’s weight status, through an anonymous questionnaire administered to parents. The questionnaires were delivered by 660 out of 890 (74.2%) families, and after excluding those without anthropometric data, 588 children were included in the study. The prevalence of overweight/obesity among the children was 25.2%, significantly lower in children born to parents with a high education, and higher among children born to foreign parents and overweight/obese mothers. The multivariable analysis showed that the children most likely to become overweight/obese were those who skipped breakfast (OR 2.3, 95%CI 1.3–4.2) and/or mid-morning snacks (OR 3.2, 95%CI 1.5–6.5). Breakfast consumption was positively associated with higher parental education levels, whereas skipping mid-morning snacks is more frequent among children born to foreign parents and overweight/obese mothers. Moreover, 84.7% of the parents of overweight/obese children underestimated their child’s weight status. One in four 6–7 year-old children is already overweight or obese. Childhood overweight/obesity is significantly associated with unhealthy lifestyles and family lifestyle. It is therefore essential to implement public health intervention programs aimed at both parents and children, in order to promote healthy lifestyles in early childhood.


Childhood overweight/obesity Dietary habits Parental education Lifestyle 



This study was carried out with the support of the Urban Multicentre Environment and Health (M.U.S.A.) of the Modena municipality: Elena Mori, Bruna Rodia, Alberto Turci and Sonia Giuliani and the teachers employed in the primary schools involved in the project.


No funding source.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

None declared.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 549 kb)
10900_2019_741_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (270 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 270 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biomedical, Metabolic and Neural Sciences, Section of Public HealthUniversity of Modena and Reggio EmiliaModenaItaly
  2. 2.Italian Healthy Cities NetworkModenaItaly
  3. 3.Department of Public Health, Food Hygiene and Nutrition ServiceAUSL ModenaModenaItaly

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