Comparison of obesity, overweight and elevated blood pressure in children attending public and private primary schools in Benin City, Nigeria
Background: Overweight and obesity in children, and adolescents is on the rise globally. Affected children are prone to cardio-metabolic problems later in life, especially hypertension. The prevalence of obesity/overweight may differ depending on school type. Private schools are attended mostly by children of the affluent, while public schools are attended predominantly by those in the low and middle socio-economic classes.
Objective: To compare the prevalence of overweight, obesity and elevated blood pressure (BP) in pupils attending public and private primary schools in an urban community in Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: In this cross sectional study, the BMI and BP of pupils in public and private primary schools, recruited by multistage sampling method, were measured. Their nutritional status was categorized using their BMI percentiles. Analysis was by SPSS.
Results: A total of 1466 pupils were recruited, 814(55.5%) were in public schools and 722(49.2%) were males. The prevalence of overweight and obesity was higher in private schools 11.8% and 11.7% compared to public schools 3.3% and 0.9%. The mean systolic BP of pupils in public schools 96.8 ± 12.5 mmHg was higher than that in private schools 95.5 ± 10.2 mmHg, p = 0.032. Distribution of pupils with prehypertension and hypertension between private and public schools was not significantly different.
Conclusion: The prevalence of overweight and obesity is higher in pupils attending private schools compared to those in public school. Urgent measures are needed to stem this tide through education, weight reduction and physical activity programs, especially in pupils attending private schools.
Keywords: Blood pressure, body mass index, obesity, overweight, private schools