Changes in body mass index during treatment of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia with the Nordic ALL2008 protocol

Christina Egnell*, Hanna Närhinen, Andrea Merker, Ólafur G Jonsson, Kristi Lepik, Riitta Niinimäki, Kjeld Schmiegelow, Niklas Stabell, Birgitte Klug Albertsen, Goda Vaitkeviciene, Susanna Ranta, Arja Harila-Saari

*Corresponding author for this work


OBJECTIVES: Children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) have a tendency to gain weight during treatment. As overweight and obesity associate with health problems, prophylactic interventions are warranted. Therefore, it is important to identify the children most prone to gain weight.

METHODS: Patients aged 2.0-17.9 years at ALL diagnosis were identified from the NOPHO ALL2008 registry. Registry data was complemented with height and weight at the end of therapy from questionnaires. Body mass index (BMI) was classified according to international age- and sex-adjusted International Obesity Task Force BMI cut-offs. BMI values were transformed into standard deviation scores (SDS) to calculate the difference in BMISDS during treatment.

RESULTS: Data on BMI change were available for 765 children. Overweight and obesity doubled during treatment: 9.7% were overweight and 2.1% obese at diagnosis and 21.8% and 5.4% at the end of therapy, respectively. The mean BMISDS change was +0.64. Younger (2.0-5.9 years) and healthy weight children were most prone to become overweight (mean change in BMI SDS +0.85 and + 0.65, respectively).

CONCLUSIONS: Younger children (2.0-5.9 years) with healthy weight at diagnosis were most prone to becoming overweight and therefore are an important group to target while considering interventions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Haematology
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)656-663
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Obesity/complications
  • Overweight/complications
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma/diagnosis


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