Obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century, that has many serious long-term consequences for health. The prevalence of childhood obesity has been increasing at worrying rates across the globe.
To measure the prevalence and identify potential risk factors of overweight and obesity among a sample of primary school children in Baghdad, Iraq.
This cross-sectional study was conducted on a random sample of 10 primary schools from different localities of Baghdad, followed by a systematic random sample of 620 children aged 10 years or more of both sexes. A questionnaire sent to the parents to gather information on socio-demographic characteristics, dietary habits, daily physical activity, steroids use, family history of obesity and parents` education and job. Children's height (cm), weight (Kg), and BMI-for-age were measured and parents` height and weight were obtained through a questionnaire sent to the parents and accordingly BMI (Kg/m2) was calculated. Child's weight status was categorized based on WHO 2007 Growth Reference.
The prevalence of high BMI was 30.3%, including 16.3% overweight and 14% obesity. Following application of binary analysis, the significant risk factors included in the logistic regression model that revealed the following significant risk factors: not having regular sports (OR: 4.1; P=0.000), child inactivity (OR: 3.1; P=0.001), high meal frequency (OR: 2.6; P=0.006), positive family history of obesity (OR: 2.5; P=0.01) and more sweets and bicarbonate beverages (OR: 2.2, P=0.002).
The prevalence of overweight/obesity was high among primary school children. Children should be considered the priority population for intervention strategies and to combat early childhood obesity.