The prevalence of obesity among Italian children has reached such alarming levels as to require detailed studies of the causes of the phenomenon. A cross-sectional study was carried out in order to assess the weight status of 1164 Italian children aged 6-8 years (the Monitoring Air Pollution Effects on Children for Supporting Public Health Policy (MAPEC_LIFE) cohort) and to identify any associations between selected socio-economic and environmental factors and overweight/obesity. The data were obtained by means of a questionnaire given to parents, and any associations were examined by binomial logistic regression analyses. Overweight was found to be positively associated with male gender, parents of non-Italian origin, and parents who smoke, and negatively associated with the parents' level of education and employment. In addition, the frequency of overweight varied in relation to the geographical area of residence, with a greater prevalence of overweight children in the cities of central-southern Italy. This study highlights the need to implement appropriate obesity prevention programs in Italy, which should include educational measures concerning lifestyle for parents from the earliest stages of their child's life.
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