South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Overweight and obesity in six-year-old children in 4th and 5th quintile schools in Mangaung, South Africa

L Van den Berg


Objective: Weight status at age six years has been identified as an important predictor of overweight and obesity in adolescence, which, in
turn, tracks into adulthood, increasing the risk of future metabolic diseases. This study aimed to describe the prevalence of overweight and
obesity in six-year-old children in 4th and 5th quintile schools in Mangaung as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the problem among parents and educators.
Design: The study design was cross-sectional and descriptive.
Subjects and setting: Ninety-nine randomly selected grade 1 children, born in 2007, in 4th and 5th quintile primary schools, Mangaung, were the study subjects.
Method: Body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) were recorded.
Results: Based on BMI-for-age, 24.2% of the children were overweight and obese (10.9% of the boys and 11.3% of the girls were overweight; and 10.9% of the boys and 15.1% of the girls were obese). WHtR was above  normal in 16.2% of the study sample (8.7% of the boys and 22.6% of girls). WHtR correlated significantly with BMI (R 0.8, p-value < 0.0001) in this sample.
Conclusion: Almost a quarter of the six-year-old children in this study were overweight and obese. Parents need to be made more aware of future  morbidities associated with excess weight at this age and be empowered to prevent, recognise and appropriately address weight problems in their children.

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