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South African Journal of Sports Medicine

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Obesity in 7 - 10-year-old children in urban primary schools in Port Elizabeth

J McKersie, ML Baard

Abstract


Objective. The primary aim of this study was to quantify the prevalence of overweight and obesity among urban 7 - 10-year-old children in affluent (quintile 5) English-medium primary schools in Port Elizabeth.
Method. A quantitative, descriptive one-way cross-sectional research design utilising random sampling was used. A once-off survey consisted of anthropometrical assessment of body mass index (BMI) according to standardised procedures. To classify children into weight categories, the International Obesity Task Force z-score BMI cut-off criteria were used. Post-hoc analysis consisted of one-way analysis of variance and χ2 tests. Level of significance was set at p<0.05. A total of 713 children participated in the study.
Results. Overweight prevalence was 20.9% (n=149) and obesity prevalence was 9.8% (n=70). A significant interaction was found for overweight and obesity levels by gender and age (F=7.2, p=0.01). Of the boys (N=372) 18.5% (n=69) were overweight and 6.9% (n=26) were obese. The girls (N=341) had a 23.5% (n=80) overweight rate and 12,9% (n=44) were obese. The highest prevalence of overweight (24.7%, n=43, N=174) was found in children aged 10, and the highest prevalence of obesity (12.5%, n=21, N=167) was found in children aged 8.
Conclusion. Results highlighted the rising prevalence of overweight and obesity among urban children from  economically privileged settings. Future research into paediatric obesity is needed to curb the growing incidence.



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