African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Prevalence of abdominal obesity among rural South African children over time: Ellisras Longitudinal Study

K.D. Monyeki, M. Matshipi, M.S. Monyeki


Early detection for increased abdominal fat may be crucial in early prevention of cardiovascular diseases. The purpose of the current study was to explore the development of abdominal obesity of Ellisras rural children aged 6 to 14 years over time. Height, waist and hip circumferences were measured twice, yearly from 1996 to 2003. In total, 2,225 children aged 3-10 years enrolled in 1996 at baseline and were followed up to the eighth year in periodic surveys. In 2003, 1,701 children were still in the study. General estimated equation was used to assess tracking of abdominal obesity in these children. The prevalence of abdominal obesity, based on waist-to-height ratio, was not statistically different among boys (0 – 6.2%) as compared to girls (0 – 5.0%) throughout the period of measurements. Waist-to-height ratio showed a significant (p < 0.05) tracking coefficient between the baseline measurements and the follow-up measurements with ß = 0.30 95%CI 0.51 – 0.55 for unadjusted and ß = 0.27 (95%CI 0.26 – 0.28) adjusted for age and sex. The prevalence of abdominal obesity showed a decreasing trend among Ellisras girls as they grew older. There was a significant tracking of abdominal obesity among Ellisras children. Investigations of dietary and physical activity habits can shed light on the lifestyles and health status of these children.

Keywords: Abdominal obesity, African children, Waist-to-height ratio.

AJOL African Journals Online