Physical activity, body mass index and blood pressure in primary school pupils attending private schools
Background: Lack of physical activity contributes to overweight and obesity. It is recommended that children accumulate at least one hour of moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity daily.
Objective: The level of physical activity, body mass index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP) were evaluated in pupils attending private primary schools.
Method: The intensity and duration of physical activity of the pupils selected by multiple stage sampling method were obtained with the aid of a questionnaire. The BMI and BP were measured. Analysis was by SPSS.
Results: Of the 353 pupils, 132(37.4%) pupils were adequately physically active while overweight and obesity prevalences were 54(15.3%) and 65(18.4%) respectively. Hypertension prevalence in overweight/ obese children (6.5%) was significantly higher than in children with healthy weight 1.5%, P = 0.04.
Conclusion: Only a third of pupils met the recommended level of physical activity. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was high while the overweight and obese pupils were more likely to have hypertension compared to those with healthy weight. Physical activity programmes for primary school pupils in school and at home are therefore recommended.
Keywords: Physical activity; body mass index; school children; hypertension