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Risk factors for overweight and overfatness in rural South African children and adolescents

Craig, E. and Reilly, J.J. and Bland, R. (2016) Risk factors for overweight and overfatness in rural South African children and adolescents. Journal of Public Health, 38 (1). pp. 24-33. ISSN 1741-3842

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Background To determine risk factors for overweight/overfatness in children and adolescents from rural KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Methods Anthropometric data were collected from a cross-sectional sample (n = 1519, ages 7, 11 and 15 years) and linked to demographic information (n = 1310 and n = 1317 in overweight and overfat analyses, respectively). Candidate risk factors for overweight/overfatness were identified and tested for associations with overweight (BMI-for-age >+1SD, WHO reference) and overfatness (>85th centile body fatness, McCarthy reference) as outcomes. Associations were examined using simple tests of proportions (χ2/Mann–Whitney U tests) and multivariable logistic regression. Results Sex was a consistent variable across both analyses; girls at significantly increased risk of overweight and overfatness (overweight: n = 180, 73.9 and 26.1% females and males, respectively (P < 0.0001); overfat: n = 187, 72.7 and 27.3% females and males, respectively (P < 0.0001)). In regression analyses, sex and age (defined by school grade) were consistent variables, with boys at lower risk of overweight (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 0.40 (confidence interval (CI) -0.28–0.57)) and risk of overweight increasing with age (AOR 0.65 (CI- 0.44–0.96), 0.50 (CI-0.33–0.75) and 1.00 for school grades 1, 5 and 9, respectively). Results were similar for overfatness. Conclusions This study suggests that pre-adolescent/adolescent females may be the most appropriate targets of future interventions aimed at preventing obesity in rural South Africa.