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Open Access Prevalence of overweight, obesity, and thinness among urban school-aged children and adolescents in southern Nigeria

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Background. Overweight and obesity are public health problems all over the world because of their devastating social, economic, and health consequences, and they coexist with undernutrition in developing countries. Yet, there are few data on the magnitude of these problems in Nigeria.

Objective. To assess the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and thinness among urban school-aged children and adolescents.

Methods. A cross-sectional study of 1,599 children and adolescents 5 to 18 years of age was conducted. The subjects were randomly selected from schools in four urban towns (Lagos, Port Harcourt, Nsukka, and Aba) in southern Nigeria. A validated and pretested questionnaire was used to collect information on the background of the children and adolescents and their parents' socioeconomic status. Weight and height measurements were taken, and body mass indexes were calculated. Overweight, obesity, and thinness were defined according to the International Obesity Task Force cutoff points for children and adolescents 2 to 18 years of age. The data were analyzed by descriptive statistics, cross tabulations, and chi-squared tests.

Results. The prevalence rates of overweight, obesity, and thinness were 11.4%, 2.8%, and 13.0%, respectively. More females (3.7%) than males (1.8%) were obese (p < .05). The prevalence of overweight was higher among adolescents 10 to 18 years of age (13%) than among children 5 to 9 years of age (9.4%) (p < .001) and was highest (23.1%) at age 15 years. Thinness was significantly more prevalent among children (19.0%) than adolescents (8.3%) (p < .001) and was highest (28.6%) at age 7 years. Age- and sex-related increases and decreases were observed in the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and thinness. The rates of overweight, obesity, and thinness were affected by location and income levels.

Conclusions. The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity are increasing among urban Nigerian children and adolescents and are of equal magnitude to the prevalence of undernutrition.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Established in 1978, the Food and Nutrition Bulletin (FNB) is a peer-reviewed journal published quarterly by the Nevin Scrimshaw International Nutrition Foundation.

    The focus of the journal is to highlight original scientific articles on nutrition research, policy analyses, and state-of-the-art summaries relating to multidisciplinary efforts to alleviate the problems of hunger and malnutrition in the developing world.

    Food and Nutrition Bulletin's 2012 Impact Factor: 2.106
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