Half of obese teens trying to lose weight

Fri, Nov 30, 2012, 00:00

Half of overweight or obese 13-year-olds are exercising and dieting to lose weight, a new report has found.

The findings are part of the Growing Up in Ireland study released yesterday which found that of the 8,500 children surveyed, 20 per cent were overweight and 6 per cent were obese.

The children had been interviewed four years earlier, aged nine, as part of the Government-sponsored study led by the ESRI and Trinity College Dublin.

More than three-quarters (78 per cent) of obese children were exercising to lose weight while over half (55 per cent) were exercising and dieting. However, fewer obese children took part in sports outside PE classes.

Overweight and obesity in 13-year-olds was strongly related to their weight at age nine. More than half of overweight nine-year-olds were overweight aged 13, while a third had reached a healthy weight. Just one child in 10 without weight problems aged nine had developed a weight problem by age 13.

Concern about the levels of “disengagement among working-class boys” within the second-level school system was raised by Dr Emer Smyth of the ESRI.

She noted that nine-year-old children in all social groups were engaged in and liked school, but four years on, there were “stark differences . . . by gender and social class”. The report showed gender differences in behaviour, with boys getting detention (27 per cent) or extra work as punishment (45 per cent), twice as often as girls.