What is already known about this subject
- Lack of published data.
- Absence of Ethnic specific data.
- Lack of focus on obesity prevention in Arab schools.
The objective is to produce the first set of obesity prevalence data and use the data as reference values of body mass index (BMI) trends for Arab children in Israel and compare with Jewish and international data.
A prevalence study was carried out in 2009 in which 4130 children aged 6–12, were selected from eight Arab sector schools representing the Nazareth Municipality. Height, weight and BMI measurements were obtained and presented by age, mean age, size, weight, gender and percentile. Appropriate epidemiological and statistical methods used for comparison.
The obesity and overweight prevalence rates in Arab children by age ranges from 0% to 2.6% and 0% to 11.2%, respectively. Comparison with international and Jewish data revealed differences in almost all age groups but higher rates in Arabs, especially boys.
The higher rates/trends in Arab children may be explained by more Arab women entering the workforce, increase in single-parent families and changes in food and physical activity environments.
Based on our data, we recommend either an ethnic-specific BMI reference curves and/or inclusion of Arab data in the Israeli data system. Research need to focus on reasons for the increase and interventions to reverse/slow the trend.