South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation

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Prevalence of Overweight and Underweight among black South African Children from rural areas in the North-West Province

Suzanne Jacobs, Hans J de Ridder


The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight and underweight according to body mass index (BMI) and percentage body fat, among Black South African children in rural areas from the North-West Province. The sample (N=168) consisted of 47 eleven-year-olds, 58 twelve-year-olds and 63 thirteen-year-old children of which 79 were boys, and 89 were girls. Anthropometric measurements (BMI and percentage body fat) were taken according to the standard ISAK methods. Descriptive statistics and the Independent t-tests were used. The majority of the boys were of normal weight (80%), with 19% underweight and 1% at risk of overweight. The majority girls were also of normal weight (78%), with 11% underweight, 4% at risk of overweight and 7% overweight and obese. Regarding percentage body fat, 47% of the boys were classified as optimal, 44% as low, 5% moderate high and 4% high. In girls, 58% were rated as optimal, 18% as low, 10% as moderate high, 7% as very high and 3% in the high and very low categories each. There were no significant differences in BMI and percentage body fat among the different age groups (p<0.05). It appears that teachers and school-based health professionals should promote changes in school education and screening programmes by designing health programmes that are sensitive to race and individual needs.

Keywords: BMI; Percentage body fat; Body composition; Black South African children

South African Journal for Research in Sport, Physical Education and Recreation, 2012, 34(2): 41-51

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