Nesamony Maneksh Kumar1, Delinda Linu Swornila2, Silcy Janet Rajamony3
Obesity is defined as having excess body fat due to ‘calorie imbalance’ -too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed. Childhood obesity has both immediate and long-term effects on health and well-being. This study is aimed to highlight the burden of obesity among school children. The objectives of this study are to find the prevalence of obesity among school children aged 11-15 years and to compare prevalence of obesity among school children of government and private schools.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
School-based cross-sectional study conducted in 2 private and 2 government schools of a rural area in Trivandrum district. Total 800 students (200 from each school) aged 11-15 years in 6th to 10th standards were selected by systematic random sampling and consent were obtained. Height (cm) and weight (kg) were measured using stadiometer and standardised weighing machine, respectively. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated and categorised as underweight, normal, overweight and obese. The prevalence is expressed in percentages.
In this study, the total prevalence of overweight and obesity among the total 800 school children is found to be 4% and 1%, respectively. An alarming incidental finding is that the underweight prevalence is 61%, which is significantly high and should be addressed. The overall prevalence of overweight and obesity is 4.25% and 1.75%, respectively in private schools, whereas it is 3.5% and 1%, respectively, in government schools. There is not a significant difference between private and government school children. This may be due to the awareness about problems of obesity and its effects among school children and also timely health checkups in the schools.
This study done in a rural area found that there is a significant prevalence of obesity and overweight as well as a very high prevalence of underweight. It indicates that childhood obesity is an emerging health problem in rural areas and has to be prevented. Health education should be given to parents, teachers and children regarding dietary habit and sedentary lifestyle.