Background: Overweight and obesity among preschool children has received worldwide attention, partly in response to concerns about the increasing prevalence of obesity globally and partly as a result of the association between childhood obesity and the long term increases in mortality and morbidity.
Aims & Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether obesity among preschool children in Bahrain was considered to be a real problem and to identify the risk factors contributing to overweight children.
Material and Methods: Data for 387 children on the prevalence of overweight and obesity were retrieved from local health centre’s databases retrospectively. In this cross-sectional study, four different local health centers distributed across the country were randomly selected. The BMI-for-age references by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Z score references by World Health Organization (WHO)/ National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) were used to classify the weight status of the children.
Results: We examined 387 records of children from 3 to 60 months old, of which 15025 were registered within four health centers which were selected for this study. Based on the BMI percentile, 9.8% were at risk of being overweight, while 5.2% were considered obese. However, by using the BMI-for-age Z score; we found that 12.1% were at risk of being overweight and 2.6% were obese. Children’s aged from 18 to 24 months reported the highest prevalence of overweight and obesity 6.1%, on the other hand children aged from 9 to 12 months were more at risk of being overweight 20.3%, p = 0.05.
Conclusion: The results in this study indicate that the prevalence of overweight and obesity among preschool children in the Kingdom of Bahrain is comparable to other countries such as Germany, China, and Kuwait.
Key words: Obesity, Body mass index, CDC, NCHS, Z score