Assessment of gross malnutrition among primary school children using body mass index as an assessment tool in abakaliki metropolis of Ebonyi State, South-East Nigeria
Background: Obesity and overweight are emerging major health problems in developing countries in the background of undernutrition. These have been linked to a substantial increase in mortality and morbidity.
Objectives: This cross-sectional survey was aimed at determining the prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity using body mass index (BMI) in primary school pupils in Abakaliki metropolis of Ebonyi State, south-east Nigeria.
Method: Eight hundred and four participants aged 6–12 years, from four public and four private primary schools had their weights and heights measured using standard methods. BMI value was calculated for each subject and compared with BMI for age and sex from World Health Organisation (WHO 2007) reference standard. Socioeconomic status was determined using method proposed by Oyedeji.
Results: Out of 804 subjects, 426 (53.0%) were from public schools, whereas 378 (47%) were from private schools (P ≤ 0.01). Four hundred and fifteen (51.6%) were males and 389 (48.4%) were female (P = 0.88). The prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity using BMI were 4.5% and 1.2%, 0% in public schools and 1.1%, 5.0%, and 3.0% in private schools, (P < 0.001). The socioeconomic class significantly affected the prevalence of underweight, overweight, and obesity as more subjects with overweight and obesity belonged to upper social class, whereas more underweight subjects belonged to lower social class.
Conclusion: Overweight and obesity are emerging in a background of undernutrition, showing ‘‘double burden’’ of nutritional disorder.
Keywords: Body mass index, obesity, overweight, primary school children, socioeconomic class, underweight