Objective: To estimate the prevalence and correlates of overweight and obesity among children six to ten years old in the North-East Health Region (NEHR) of Jamaica.
Methods: Weights and heights were measured in a representative sample of 5710 children between the ages of six and ten years in 34 schools between October 2008 and March 2009. Overweight and obesity were defined as body mass index (BMI) Z-score >1SD and >2SD, respectively based on the World Health Organization (WHO)-endorsed age and gender-specific growth standards for children. Point prevalence estimates of overweight and obesity were calculated. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were used to estimate associations between overweight and obesity and age, gender and school location.
Results: Overweight and obesity prevalence among children six to ten years old in NEHR, Jamaica, was 10.6% and 7.1%, respectively. Overweight (OR = 1.11, 95% CI: 1.04, 1.18) and obesity (OR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.26) prevalence increased significantly with age. Overweight (OR = 1.51, 95% CI:1.27, 1.80) and obesity (OR = 1.36, 95% CI: 1.11, 1.67) prevalence was significantly higher among girls than boys. Children attending rural-public schools had less risk of being overweight (OR = 0.57, 95% CI: 0.46, 0.70) and obese (OR = 0.35, 95% CI: 0.28, 0.44) when compared with urban-public schools and private schools. Both overweight (OR = 2.11, 95% CI: 1.60, 2.78) and obesity (OR = 1.68, 95% CI: 1.24, 2.28) were significantly more common among children attending private schools. After adjusting for age and gender, the results still remained statistically significant.
Conclusions: Overweight/obesity prevalence among children six to ten years old in NEHR of Jamaica is 17.7% with older children and girls having higher rates. Children attending urban-public and private schools have higher prevalence than those attending rural schools. Appropriately targeted interventions are needed to combat this problem.