Higher prevalence of obesity in Greek children living in rural areas despite increased levels of physical activity

Konstantinos D. Tambalis, Demosthenes B. Panagiotakos, Stavros A. Kavouras, Sofia Papoutsakis, Labros S. Sidossis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Aim The purpose of the present study was to evaluate whether levels of physical activity (PA) and sedentary behaviours could explain observed differences in the prevalence of childhood obesity in a sample of Greek children. Methods Epidemiological study. PA and sedentary behaviours were assessed by a self-administrated PA checklist. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated from measured weight and height. A representative sample of Greek children aged 10-12 years attending fifth and sixth grade (n = 3195), living in rural and urban areas, were enrolled. Maturation status was not evaluated due to technical reasons. Results Prevalence of obesity was higher among children living in rural areas as compared with urban areas (12.1% vs. 10.7%, P < 0.01). Surprisingly, children living in rural areas had higher levels of self-reported PA (P < 0.001) and met current PA guidelines to a greater extent than their urban counterparts (P < 0.05). Furthermore, boys had higher levels of total, low-to-moderate intensity and vigorous intensity physical activity, as well as sedentary behaviours, than girls (all P-values <0.05). Stratified analysis by BMI category revealed that normal weight boys and girls had higher levels of total PA and vigorous intensity physical activity compared with overweight and obese boys from the same type of setting (all P-values <0.05). Conclusions Children living in rural areas have higher levels of PA and more frequently met PA guidelines than their urban counterparts, despite a higher prevalence of obesity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-774
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • children
  • obesity
  • physical activity
  • rural
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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