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Prevalence and awareness of obesity and its risk factors among adolescents in two schools in a northeast Indian city

Prasanta Kumar Bhattacharya, Nirmali Gogoi, Aakash Roy.

Background: Obesity is a major public health problem leading to 2.6 million deaths worldwide every year. In developing countries, obesity in children and adolescents is emerging as a major health problem.

Objective: To assess the prevalence and awareness of obesity and its risk factors among adolescents.

Materials and Methods: This community-based, cross-sectional study was carried out in schools of Guwahati city. Sixty adolescent school students, aged 10–19 years, were randomly selected, 30 each from a private and government urban school, to assess the prevalence of obesity using the WHO body mass index (BMI) and Agarwal BMI growth chart. Pretested, structured questionnaires were used to assess their physical activity, eating habits, awareness of obesity, and lifestyle risk factors. Statistical analysis was done using χ2-test to compare proportions; p value < 0.05 was considered significant.

Result: Prevalences of overweight and obesity were 13.3% and 1.7%, respectively, using the WHO criteria and 6.7% and 10%, respectively, using Agarwal BMI growth chart. Prevalence of obesity using waist–hip ratio was 10%. Obesity was higher in private school, in boys, in nuclear families, in those consuming junk foods regularly, and in those who did not do regular exercise. About 35% of participants did not exhibit adequate knowledge about the impact of physical activity on healthy weight.

Conclusion: Prevalence and lack of awareness of obesity and its risk factors are major problems in adolescents in urban community. Hence, community-based lifestyle interventions programs should incorporate adolescents to improve their awareness about healthy lifestyle behavior to prevent obesity and its complications.

Key words: Adolescents, obesity, body mass index, risk factors, urban community

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