Prevalence of overweight, weight for height, male (% of children under 5)

Definition: Prevalence of overweight children is the percentage of children under age 5 whose weight for height is more than two standard deviations above the median for the international reference population of the corresponding age as established by the WHO's new child growth standards released in 2006.

Description: The map below shows how Prevalence of overweight, weight for height, male (% of children under 5) varies by country. The shade of the country corresponds to the magnitude of the indicator. The darker the shade, the higher the value. The country with the highest value in the world is Ukraine, with a value of 27.30. The country with the lowest value in the world is Dem. People's Rep. Korea, with a value of 0.00.

Source: World Health Organization, Global Database on Child Growth and Malnutrition. Country-level data are unadjusted data from national surveys, and thus may not be comparable across countries.

See also: Country ranking, Time series comparison

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Development Relevance: Once considered a high-income country problem, overweight children have become a growing concern in developing countries. Research shows an association between childhood obesity and a high prevalence of diabetes, respiratory disease, high blood pressure, and psychosocial and orthopedic disorders (de Onis and Blössner 2000). Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. In addition to increased future risks, obese children experience breathing difficulties, increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and psychological effects. There is a general imbalance in energy intake compared to physical activity levels which drives the obesity epidemic. Children in low- and middle-income countries are more vulnerable to inadequate pre-natal, infant and young child nutrition. At the same time, they are exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods, which tend to be lower in cost. These dietary patterns, in conjunction with low levels of physical activity, result in sharp increases in childhood obesity while undernourishment issues remain unsolved .In industrialized countries, child obesity risk is associated with lower household income, women with less education, and single parent households.

Limitations and Exceptions: New international growth reference standards for infants and young children were released in 2006 by the WHO to monitor children's nutritional status. The previously reported data were based on the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics-WHO growth reference. Population data reported in the World Development Indicator database may differ from those reported by country sources or the United Nations. Estimates of overweight children are from national survey data.

Statistical Concept and Methodology: The World Health Organization (WHO) considers children overweight whose weight for height, or body mass index (BMI) is two standard deviations above the median for their age. Childhood obesity and overweight are defined as ''abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.'' According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) overweight children have a BMI at or above the 85th percentile and lower than the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex; obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for children of the same age and sex. New international growth reference standards for infants and young children were released in 2006 by the World Health Organization (WHO) to monitor children's nutritional status. Differences in growth to age 5 are influenced more by nutrition, feeding practices, environment, and healthcare than by genetics or ethnicity. The previously reported data were based on the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics-WHO growth reference. Because of the change in standards, the data in this edition should not be compared with data in editions prior to 2008. Height is measured by recumbent length for children up to two years old and by stature while standing for older children. Year refers to the survey year. For more information, consult the original sources.

Aggregation method: Linear mixed-effect model estimates

Periodicity: Annual