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Body Fat Percentage of Urban South African Children: Implications for Health and Fitness

Objective: To explore gender and racial profiling of percentage body fat of 1136 urban South African children attending public schoolsin Pretoria Central.
Methods: Thisis a cross-sectionalsurvey of 1136 randomly selected children (548 boys and 588 girls) aged 9−13 yearsin urban (Pretoria Central) South Africa. Body mass,stature,skinfolds(subscapular and triceps) were measured. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics (means and standard deviations). Dif erences in the mean body fat percentage were examined for boys and girls according to their age group/race, using independent t-testsamples.
Results: Girls had a significantly (p=0.001) higher percentage body fat(22.7 ± 5.7% (95% CI=22.3, 23.2) compared to boys(16.1 ± 7.7%, 95% CI = 15.5, 16.8). Percentage body fat fluctuated with age in both boys and girls. Additionally, girls had significantly (p = 0.001) higher percentage body fat measurements at all ages compared to boys. Viewed racially, black children (20.1 ± 7.5) were significantly (p = 0.010) fatter than white children (19.0 ± 7.4) with a mean dif erence of 4.0. Black children were fatter than white children at ages 9, 10, 12 and 13 years, with a significant dif erence (p = 0.009) observed at age 12 years.
Conclusion: There was a considerably higher level of excessive percentage body fat among school children in Central Pretoria, South Africa, with girls having significantly higher percentage body fat compared to boys. Racially, black children were fatter than white children. The excessive percentage body fat observed among the children in this study has implications for their health and fitness. Therefore, an intervention programme must be instituted in schools to prevent and control possible excessive percentage body fat in this age group
13 Dec, 2012
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e-Published: 22 Jan, 2014
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