Identifying Overweight and Obesity in Brazilian Schoolchildren, 2014

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Abstract

Context:

For any intervention in a population, we need to understand population characteristics and needs. The School Health Program (PSE) is a Brazilian national proposal for the improvement of schoolchildren's quality of life by integrating health and education areas to address vulnerabilities that affect the development of students from public schools.

Objective:

To describe the prevalence of overweight and obesity in school-aged children and adolescents and to expound methods to evaluate the nutritional status deviation.

Design:

Cross-sectional study.

Setting:

Schools in Itatiba, Sao Paulo, Brazil, participating in PSE.

Participants:

A total of 6829 schoolchildren aged 6 month to 15 years.

Main Outcome Measures:

Nutritional status and standard percentile curves for body mass index (BMI) for gender.

Results:

In children younger than 5 years, the prevalence of being overweight was 13.9%; for those between 5 years or older and younger than 10 years, it was 33.9%; and for those 10 years or older, it was 34.0%. In males, obesity and severe obesity were more present (10.7% and 3.7%, respectively) than in girls (9.5% and 1.9%, respectively). Regarding location, it was found that the region with the highest income showed a higher prevalence of overweight children. Compared with the World Health Organization reference BMI curves, our reference percentile curve showed a higher standard for the cutoff points between normal range and overweight.

Conclusion:

From our results, we found that age and measures of weight and height in schoolchildren could contribute, in a cheap and simple way, to the assessment of nutritional status in a region. This is helpful in providing health monitoring and assisting in making public health decisions, as well as serving in comparison with other scientific studies. Partnership between education and health systems can facilitate and improve the quality of health management among schoolchildren.

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