Growth in prepubertal Nigerian children is highly dependent on socio-economic status

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Abstract

Aim

To relate height, weight and body mass index (BMI) of prepubertal children in Sagamu, Nigeria, to parental socio-economic class (SEC).

Methods

Cross-sectional study of 1606 children aged 5–11 years from eight public and eight private primary schools. Height, weight and BMI from 1557 prepubertal children were standardized using two references: US-CDC birth cohorts 1929–1974 and Swedish birth cohort 1974.

Results

Children in private schools were taller and heavier than those in public schools (p < 0.0001). Most children (73.2%) belonged to lower SEC, 17.6% to middle and 9.2% to upper. HeightSDS, weightSDS and BMISDS increased with increasing parental SEC. Upper SEC children were taller and heavier with higher BMIs than those from lower SEC (p < 0.0001). HeightSDS, weightSDS and BMISDS were below ‘0’ in all SEC and gender groups (all p < 0.002). Younger children were taller and heavier than the older (p < 0.0001).

Conclusion

Fathers/mothers with higher education/occupation had taller and heavier children with higher BMI than other groups. Children in private schools were taller and heavier than children in public schools. Disparities in parental SEC still constrain optimal child growth in Nigeria: whereas height and weight of children of upper SEC were close to the US-CDC29–74 reference mean, they were still below Swedish74 reference mean representing more optimal growth.

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