Differential prevalence and associations of overweight and obesity by gender and population group among school learners in South Africa : a cross-sectional study

Negash, Sarah ; Agyemang, Charles ; Matsha, Tandi E. ; Peer, Nasheeta ; Erasmus, Rajiv T. ; Kengne, Andre P. (2017-07-17)

CITATION: Negash, S. et al. 2017. Differential prevalence and associations of overweight and obesity by gender and population group among school learners in South Africa : a cross-sectional study. BMC Obesity, 4:29, doi:10.1186/s40608-017-0165-1.

The original publication is available at https://bmcobes.biomedcentral.com

Article

Background: Factors influencing the increasing prevalence of overweight/obesity among children and adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa remain unclear. We assessed the prevalence and determinants of overweight and obesity and effects on cardio-metabolic profile in school learners in the Western Cape, South Africa. Methods: Cross-sectional data were collected from 7 to 18-year-old South African school learners attending 14 schools, randomly selected from 107 government schools in the areas. The learners were selected through stratified random sampling techniques. Logistic regressions were used to assess the determinants of overweight/obesity and its association with cardio-metabolic profile. Results: Among the 1559 participants, the overall prevalence of overweight/obesity was 22.9%. Being a girl (Odds ratio 2.51, 95% CI: 1.92–3.29), or Black African (1.35, 1.04–.75) was associated with increased odds of being overweight/obese. The identified health consequences among the overweight/obese learners differed between the ethnic groups. Overweight/obese coloured (mixed ancestry) learners were more likely to have hypertension (3.27, 1.18–9.08), hypertriglyceridemia (1.94, 0.99–3.78) and low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (3.65, 2.33–5.72), overweight/obese Black African learners had higher odds for hypertension (3.62, 1.31–10.04) and low HDL-C (1.56, 1.01–2.40) and overweight/obese White learners were prone to low HDL-C (5.04, 1.35–18.80). Conclusions: Overweight/obesity is highly prevalent among school learners in Western Cape (South Africa), with being female or Black African increasing the odds. That overweight/obesity is also associated with adverse cardio-metabolic risk profile aggravates the problem and suggests worse cardiovascular outcomes in South African young adults in the future.

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