Prevalence, intervention and management of overweight and obesity among primary school children in Nairobi province, Kenya
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The prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity is increasing at an alarming rate worldwide and has implications for a variety of diseases. This has been due to various causes such as poor nutrition, inactivity or both. The purpose of this study was therefore to establish the prevalence of overweight and obesity among primary school children aged 10-15 years in Nairobi province, Kenya. The study also pursued establishing the efficacy of aerobic dance exercises as an intervention measure for managing overweight and obesity amongst children. It was also the purpose of the study to establish the congruence amongst BMI, BIA and skin fold methods in estimating overweight and obesity amongst children in Nairobi province. The study was carried out in two phases. A cross-sectional design was used in the first phase to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity using BMI. The subjects in this phase included 2620 males and 2705 females aged 10 to 15 years in both private and public schools. A classic experimental design which involved an experimental group (48 pupils) and a control group (21 pupils) was then used for the second phase of the study which involved further assessment of overweight and obesity using BIA and skin fold measures. Data were analysed using percentiles, Correlations, paired samples Mests, independent samples t-tests and one way analysis of variance at .05 level of significance. Post hoc tests using Tukey HSD were applied to locate inter-group differences upon significant F ratios. The results indicated that out of the 1479 pupils in private schools (103) 6.9% were obese while (245) 16.7% were overweight. On the other hand out of the 3846 pupils in public schools (62) 1.6% were obese while (220) 5.7% were overweight. Out of the total pool of 2620 male subjects, 170 (6.5%) of the male pupils were overweight while 67 (2.6%) of them were obese. The results also showed that out of the total 2760 female pupils, 295 (10.9%) of them were overweight while 98(3.6%) were obese. These results showed that overweight and obesity are prevalent among primary school children aged 10-15 years in Nairobi, Kenya. The results also indicated strong Pearson product moment correlations among BMI, BIA and skin fold which ranged from x=0.57 to i=0.75. The results further showed significant differences in body composition between boys and girls (p>.05) with female pupils being more susceptible to overweight and obesity as indicated by higher mean BMI scores compared to their male counterparts. It was also evident from the results that there were significant decreases (p>0.5) in mean BMI and mean percent body fat determined using BIA and skin fold calipers following involvement in the 10 weeks aerobic dance exercise programme. The study therefore recommended enhancement of regular physical activities amongst children using school-based programmes. It was also recommended inclusion of aerobic dance exercises in the existing primary school physical education curriculum. The study further suggested that similar assessments need to be carried out amongst children below 10 years in Kenya.