Early identification of Mexican American children who are at risk for becoming obese

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To describe the problem of obesity in Mexican American children and provide a method for identifying Mexican American children at risk for obesity.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional and retrospective cohort study.

SUBJECTS: Mexican American children, ages 5–11 (kindergarten (K)–5th grade) were studied in cross-sectional (girls=463, boys=448) and retrospective (girls=124, boys=92) samples.

MEASUREMENTS: Weights (kg) and heights (cm) were extracted from each child’s school medical records. Measurements were made by the school nurses (one nurse per school). Body mass index (BMI [w/h2]) was calculated from obtained weights and heights.

RESULTS: The prevalence of obesity in the cross-sectional sample was 27.4% for girls and 23.0% for boys. The highest prevalence was noted in 4th grade for both the girls (32.4%) and boys (43.4%). The 5 year incidence rates derived from the retrospective sample were 17.7% for girls and 21.1% for boys. The largest increase in the number of girls becoming obese was observed between K and 1st grade (15.6%). The largest increase for boys was found between the 1st and 2nd grades (13.2%). Logistic regression parameters were calculated to estimate the probability of becoming obese in 5th grade given a child’s K BMI. Using the generated equation, BMIs in K equal to 16.5, 20.9, and 23.7 would have a 21.0%, 70.0%, and 91.0% probability of being obese by 5th grade.

CONCLUSION: This study provides schools with a simple procedure for identifying Mexican American children at risk for obesity. This procedure may assist in the development and implementation of interventions aimed at averting the onset of obesity in this population.

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Correspondence to RR Suminski.

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Suminski, R., Poston, W., Jackson, A. et al. Early identification of Mexican American children who are at risk for becoming obese. Int J Obes 23, 823–829 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0800933

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Keywords

  • epidemiology
  • prediction
  • ethnicity

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