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Rapid increase of overweight and obesity among primary school-aged children in the Caribbean; high initial BMI is the most significant predictor

ABSTRACT

To examine predictors of increasing overweight among children in two developing countries.Primary school children (6–10 y at baseline, n = 336) and their caregivers.Longitudinal data were collected in 2012, with follow-up 18 months later. Data on children’s height, weight and dietary intake were collected within 8 primary public schools in Trinidad and 7 schools in St. Kitts. Caregivers’ demographic and anthropometric data were also collected.At baseline, children’s age and sex and caregivers’ BMI, age, and marital status and reported dietary intake were similar across all weight groups. The incidence of overweight and obesity among children was 8.8% and 8.1%, respectively. Dietary intake at baseline was not related to becoming overweight or obese. Similarly there were no differences in reported intake among children who became overweight or obese except that they consumed fewer fruits (0.54±0.92 vs. 0.98±1.66, p = 0.017). Misreporting of energy intake was higher among overweight/obese children as compared to those who were not overweight/obese (27% vs. 17%, p = 0.047). The baseline predictors of increasing BMI (adjusted) of the children were older age, higher baseline BMI z-score and higher height-for-age (HFA) z-score; caregiver BMI, children’s energy intake (with adjustment for misreporting) did not predict changes in children’s BMI.The increasing prevalence of overweight/obesity among children is a serious problem in the Caribbean. Heavier children are at elevated risk of continued rapid increase in their weight status, pointing to the need for early intervention.