Prevalence of obesity and physical activity among primary school children in Erbil City/Iraq
AbstractBackground: As inactive lifestyles and a tendency for having a more comfortable life rise in the Iraqi population, obesity prevalence has become a major public health concern particularly among children in the Kurdistan Region Iraq. Moreover, obesity can result in an enormous burden to the economy and public health. Conducting educational programs of physical activity and modifying nutrition patterns among primary school children can be a preventive strategy. The present study was aimed at identifying the obesity prevalence rate and its risk factors among primary school children in Erbil, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.
Patients and methods: In a cross-sectional descriptive study, 400 children who were 6 to 13 years old were selected from primary schools in Erbil and studied from 2017 to 2019. A researcher-designed questionnaire was employed to gather required socioeconomic and sociodemographic data. For this purpose, face-to-face interviews were carried out with the children’s parents. Moreover, the UNICEF calibrated digital scale was used to measure the children’s weight, a portable stadiometer for their height, and their height and weight for their body mass index. Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (version 22) was used to analyze the collected data.
Results: It was seen that 26% of the students were obese. All age groups and grades had an almost equal prevalence of obesity. Obesity was more prevalent among those students who were males, had child ranking of 1st or 2nd, whose parents lived together, whose parental education was illiterate or primary, whose mother was retired, and whose father was retired. Having an obese mother or father, eating more than 3 main meals per day, physical inactivity, and low socioeconomic status was found to be effective factors in causing children’s obesity. There was a significant relationship between children’s daily physical activity and nutritional status (p=0.000).
Conclusion: Obesity prevalence was higher among inactive primary school children who had an obese mother or father, ate more than 3 main meals per day and had low socioeconomic status. Daily physical activity of children was directly associated with a decrease in obesity prevalence in children.
Keywords: childhood obesity, physical activity, primary school students, daily meals
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