Prevalence of underweight and overweight among young adolescents aged 12-15 years in 58 low-income and middle-income countries.

TitlePrevalence of underweight and overweight among young adolescents aged 12-15 years in 58 low-income and middle-income countries.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsYang, L, Bovet, P, Ma, C, Zhao, M, Liang, Y, Xi, B
JournalPediatric obesity
Date Published03/2019
KeywordsAdolescent, Adolescents, Body Mass Index, Body Weight, Child, Developing Countries/statistics & numerical data, Female, Health Surveys, Humans, low-income and middle-income countries, Male, Overweight, Pediatric Obesity/epidemiology, Poverty, Prevalence, Schools, Thinness/epidemiology, underweight

BACKGROUND: The co-existence of underweight and overweight is a great challenge for public health in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).

OBJECTIVES: The objective of the study is to report the prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity among young adolescents in 58 LMICs.

METHODS: Data were from the Global School-based Student Health Survey (2007-2013) in 57 LMICs and from the Chinese National Surveys on Students' Constitution and Health (2010). A total of 177 325 young adolescents aged 12-15 years from 58 LMICs were included. Weight status was defined based on both the updated International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) and World Health Organization (WHO) criteria.

RESULTS: Based on the IOTF/WHO criteria, the overall prevalence of weight categories among young adolescents in LMICs was 13.4%/4.7% for underweight, 15.4%/17.3% for overweight and 5.6%/8.6% for obesity. However, the prevalence varied largely across countries and regions. Based on the IOTF criteria, the prevalence of underweight ranged from 0.0% in Niue to 48.8% in Sri Lanka and obesity ranged from 0.1% in Vanuatu to 35.0% in Niue; a prevalence exceeding 10.0% for both underweight and excess weight (overweight and obesity combined) was found in 29.3% of these countries. Underweight was more prevalent in Southeast Asia and Africa, while obesity was more frequent in Central and South Americas. There were no age and sex differences in the prevalence of weight categories for most countries.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data confirm the continued dual burden of underweight and overweight in young adolescents in many LMICs and the need for policy and programmes to address both conditions.

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First publication date (online)




Alternate JournalPediatr Obes
Citation Key / SERVAL ID9068
Peer reviewRefereed
PubMed ID30156015


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