Childhood obesity is rising in developed and developing countries, while childhood underweight is rising mainly in developing countries. Childhood underweight has been shown to increase a child’s risk of rapid weight gain. Overweight and obese children are more likely to become obese adults, which increases the risk of type-II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Studies concerning obesity among Palestinian children are scarce. The prevalence of obesity among Palestinian children has increased from 3 to 6% within 5 years in comparison to the worldwide rise from 1 to 7%, within 41 years. We aim to determine the current prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity among Palestinian school-age children and to assess the role of dietary and sociodemographic factors.
A cross sectional study was conducted in Palestine in 2017. A total of 1320 school-age children and their 2640 corresponding parents were recruited. A written questionnaire was filled out by the parents. Anthropometric indices were measured and categorized according to the Center for Disease Control and prevention (CDC).
The mean ± SD age of the children was 9.5 ± 1.5 years and 48.8% were females. The prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity among the children was approximately 7.3% (95% CI = 5.9–8.8%), 14.5% (95% CI = 12.7–16.6%) and 15.7% (95% CI = 13.8–17.8%) respectively. Multinomial logistic regression analysis demonstrated a significant correlation of waist circumference, age, gender and living place with the body mass indexes of the students.
Our findings highlighted the accelerated increase in the prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity (37.5%) among Palestinian children within a very short time in comparison to the globe. Therefore, Interventions aiming to prevent obesity and underweight at an early stage might be vital to avoid obesity later in life and its health-related co-morbidities, e.g. type-II diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.