Predictors of obesity and cardiometabolic disease risk in South African children

25 Jun 2021

Background. Obesity is a major public health problem in developed countries, and is also a growing concern in developing nations. This study assessed the predictors of overweight and obesity in South African (SA) children and adolescents, and examined the extent to which these dependent measures correlate with cardiometabolic disease (CMD) risk. Objectives. To assess the predictors of overweight and obesity in SA children and adolescents. Methods. A total of 1 361 (boys, n=678; girls, n=683) children aged 9 - 11 (boys, n=455; girls, n=411) and adolescents aged ≥12 - 13 (boys, n=288; girls n= 267) participated in the study. The children’s anthropometric and physiological measurements were taken. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated and used to classify the children as underweight, of normal weight overweight or obese, as well as to screen them for CMD risk. Results. Findings indicated that 81.2%, 17.4%, 0.9 and 0.5% of the children (<12 years old) were underweight, of normal weight, overweight, and obese, respectively. For adolescents (12 - 13 years old), 63.0%, 32.5%, 3.4% and 1.0% were underweight, of normal weight, overweight and obese, respectively. Provincial analysis of the results showed that the likelihood of a girl in Mpumalanga Province becoming overweight or obese was 0.33 times that of a female child in Limpopo Province. Conclusion. Periodic assessment of predictors of obesity and CMD disease risk in SA children is necessary. Intervention and prevention strategies are also needed to curb the rising tendency of CMD risk among the youths.