PREVALENCE OF OVERWEIGHT AND ASSOCIATED RISK FACTORS AMONG PRIMARY FEMALE SCHOOL CHILDREN IN AL-AIN CITY UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Obesity is currently an escalating epidemic that affects many countries in the world including the Gulf region where this condition is responsible for an increasing death rates annually. The objective of the study was to evaluate the prevalence of overweight and associated risk factors in primary female school children in Al Ain city, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Height and weight were measured in a sample of 900 female primary school children aged between 5-14 years. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated for each child. Children were categorized according to age and specific percentile of BMI using 2000 CDC BMI-age growth charts. A questionnaire addressing food habits, food consumption and life style (TV watching and physical activity) was completed. The results showed that the prevalence of the risk of overweight and overweight were 11.1% and 15.8% respectively. Sixty percent of children consumed chips and chocolates daily while 28% and 32.2% reported a daily consumption of vegetables and fruits respectively. Viewing TV more than 2h/day, parents obesity, breakfast intake and physical activity were significantly associated with a higher risk of overweight. Results indicated that a high prevalence of overweight exists among primary school female children. This calls for aggressive prevention strategies which, if successful, may significantly reduce adult obesity.