Research published today shows more than a quarter of children try to lose weight and that an increasing number of kids at a healthy weight are making slimming attempts.

The study, led by the University of Oxford, analysed data on weight loss attempts by children aged between 8 and 17 years old. Between 2015 and 2016, 26.5% of kids surveyed had tried to lose weight compared to 21.4% between 1997 and 1998.

Dr Aryati Ahmad of Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at University of Oxford headed the research team, who analysed health survey data of children gathered from 1997 to 2016.

Children who were overweight, older, girls, or from ethnic minority groups or low household income were more likely to make weight loss attempts.

In their conclusion, researchers stated: “The prevalence of reported weight loss attempts among children is increasing at a faster rate than the rise in excess weight and includes an increasing proportion of children with a ‘healthy’ weight.”

Key trends the research has brought to light:

  • The prevalence in weight loss attempts among children increased significantly between 1997 and 2016.

  • The increasing trend is more pronounced among subgroups who have lower total numbers of weight loss attempts.

  • Gender, ethnicity and household incomes are important sociodemographic determinants of weight loss attempts among children.

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