Experts have called for health education to encourage Nigerians to cultivate healthy lifestyle as part of measures to prevent the steady rise in childhood and adolescents obesity, a situation that end up predisposing them to ill health later in life.
In a new study, experts found 5.8 per cent of school children and adolescents were overweight and 1.7 per cent were obese in Lagos compared to national prevalence of 3.3 per cent for overweight and 1.4 to 4.2 per cent for obesity.
According to the study, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in private schools were higher than in public schools. Overweight was twice as prevalent and obesity was three times as prevalent in private schools compared with public schools.
The 2016 study published in the African Journal of Diabetes Medicine, involved 513 males and 587 females aged between 10 and 19 years attending public and private secondary schools in Lagos.
Four public and two private secondary schools were selected . random probability sampling. The Body Mass Index (BMI) were determined . measuring their weight and height.
The study which involved Ronke Akinola; A O Oduwole; I O Senbanjo and O F Njokanma from the Lagos State University College of Medicine was in collaboration with O O Jarrett and A D Rogol.
They said prevention of obesity should begin in childhood as the prevalence is highest in early adolescence, adding that the finding of the study necessitate health education to encourage lifestyle changes among children and adolescents.
“This supports the general belief that privileged adolescents with greater access to wider food choices are more likely to attend private schools. Health education is needed to encourage lifestyle changes among those affected.
“Further research is needed to consider the socio-cultural, behavioural factors, and s*xual maturity rating that may be predictors of overweight and obesity. Prevention of obesity should begin in childhood as the prevalence is highest in early adolescence,” they declared.
Obesity is a major public health problem in the world and a significant contributor to ill health. It is a global problem that affects more than 300 million people worldwide.
Obesity hitherto seen predominantly in developed countries is now a potential health problem in developing countries. Prevalence rates are as high as 21 to 24 per cent for overweight and 16 to 18 per cent for obesity among adolescents in the USA.
In India, prevalence rates of 14 per cent and 11 per cent for overweight and obesity respectively have been documented.
Obesity is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidaemia, kidney disease, hypertension, other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers, all of which reduce life expectancy.
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