Clinical obesity at primary school entry is not associated with a higher rate of subsequent hospital admission up to age 14 years in a nationally representative cohort of children in Wales and Scotland, a new study published in the journal Pediatric Obesity reports.
Researchers used data from the Millennium Cohort Study, a prospective study of children born between September 2000 and January 2002 in the United Kingdom and identified all-hospital admissions in 3269 children (Wales, n=1838; Scotland, n=1431) between the ages of 5 and 13.99 years in the linked Patient Episode Database for Wales and the linked Scottish Morbidity Records.
Using UK1990 clinical cutoffs, 82.5% of children were defined as being of healthy weight, while 11.2% and 6.4% of children were overweight and obese at age 5 years, respectively. Between 5 and 13.99 years of age, 1221 children experienced at least one inpatient admission, while 757, 268 and 196 children had 1, 2 or ≥3 admissions, respectively. At age 5 years, of those with at least 1 admission, 79.8%, 12.0% and 8.2% were healthy weight, overweight or obese, respectively. In multivariate analyses, associations between weight status and hospital admissions remained non‐significant (adjusted rate ratio [aRR], 0.87 [95% CI, 0.68‐1.10] and 1.16 [95% CI, 0.87‐1.54] for overweight and obesity, respectively).
“Recent estimates suggest that 4.9% (n=410,000) of 2- to 14-year old children with obesity in England were eligible for secondary care referral; study findings suggest that in a cohort of children born at the beginning of the new millennium increased admissions in early childhood and adolescence are not directly attributable to childhood obesity,” the authors said.
“Our findings are, however, not a cause for complacency, given the rising prevalence of obesity in subsequent generations of children born in the United Kingdom after this cohort and the lack of follow‐up into adult life possible currently. Obesity prevention strategies remain key to reducing the prevalence and impact of childhood obesity, and more research is needed to support evidence‐based commissioning of health care services for the management of obesity in children and young people,” they added.