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Keywords:

  • Obesity;
  • overweight;
  • triceps;
  • skin-fold

Summary

The prevalence of obesity is increasing in children and adolescents even in resource-poor countries. The study aimed to determine the prevalence of obesity in a group of Nigerian school children using triceps skin-fold thickness (SFT) and body mass index (BMI). The subjects were 1235 randomly selected primary and secondary Lagos school children aged 5–18 years, triceps SFT was measured with Harpenden® calipers and BMI calculated from weight and height. Using BMI, overweight and obesity were defined as values of 85th to 94th percentile for age and sex and ≥95th percentile, respectively. Using triceps SFT, obesity was defined as SFT > 85th percentile of the NHANES III study. Fifty-seven subjects (15 boys and 42 girls) had SFT > 85th percentile with a higher prevalence in girls than boys (6.4% vs. 2.6%, P = 0.001). The prevalence of BMI-defined overweight and obesity were also higher among girls (11.9% vs. 5.7%, P < 0.001 and 4.7% vs. 2.2%, P = 0.02, respectively). Females of upper socioeconomic class were more likely to be overweight (16.2% vs. 6.6%, P < 0.0001), obese (6.3% vs. 2.8%, P = 0.03) or have elevated SFT (8.2% vs. 4.2%, P = 0.03) than those of low socioeconomic status. Forty-seven of 57 subjects (82.5%) with elevated SFT also had high BMI. The prevalence of obesity is low in the study population but the much higher prevalence of overweight suggests that steps should be taken to control fatness before the figures worsen. In more than 80% of subjects, elevated SFT co-existed with elevated BMI.