Objective: To in vestigate potential gender differences in the odds of overweight/obese, weight-related perceptions, and behaviors among Chinese school children.
Methods: Height, weight, and a survey of weight-related perceptions and behaviors were measured in a nationally representative survey of 12,811 children in primary schools in China. Logistic regression analyses were used to assess gender differences, adjusting for confounders.
Results: Boys had higher odds of being overweight/obese compared to girls within both urban [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 2.30, 95% CI 2.00 to 2.65] and rural areas (OR = 1.85, 95% CI 1.55 to 2.20). Girls reported healthier diets (e.g., daily vegetables OR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.73 to 0.85) whereas boys consumed fried food (OR = 1.21, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.38) and sugar-sweetened drinks more often (OR = 1.49, 95% CI 1.34 to 1.65). Gender differences included higher odds of boys perceiving themselves as overweight if they had more highly educated mothers (OR = 1.35, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.68), less educated fathers (OR = 0.79, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.99), and if they frequently consumed carbonated drinks (OR = 1.48, 95% CI 1.07 to 2.05).
Conclusion: Childhood obesity prevention in China should be gender-focused, particularly for boys who reported an unhealthier diet but were less likely to see they were fat, even though more boys were overweight or obese than girls.