Obesity among Elementary Schoolchildren: A Growing Concern in the North of Iran, 2012

Reza Ghadimi, Elmira Asgharzadeh, Parvin Sajjadi


Background: The aim of the present study is to assess the elementary schoolchildren’s nutritional status based on anthropometric indices due to the sudden spread of obesity in children and adolescents in both developed and developing countries.

Methods: This cross‑sectional study was conducted on 3647 children with an age range of 7–11 years of primary schools in Babol using cluster random sampling method in 2012. Children younger than 7 years or older than 11 years, children with chronic diseases, pupils treated with corticosteroids or growth hormone replacement therapy and children with chromosomal abnormalities were excluded from the study. Anthropometric indices were measured by medical students and evaluated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard percentiles. Data were analyzed using statistical software SPSS version 18 with Chi‑square and independent samples t‑test.

Results: The body mass index of 26.1% of children was greater than the 85th percentile, and 4.7% was less than the 5th percentile. The prevalence of obesity among boys was significantly higher than girls (P = 0.007). Moreover, urban children (P = 0.0001) and children who studied in private schools (P = 0.0001) had a significantly higher proportion of obesity and overweight than the urban and private schoolstudents. The highest prevalence of obesity and overweight belonged to 18.0% of the students among fifth graders and 15.3% of schoolchildren among third graders, respectively (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: The results showed that the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the study was higher. It seems it is necessary to implement the intervention programs to prevent overweight and obesity among schoolchildren.

Keywords: Body mass index, obesity, overweight, schoolchildren

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