Background and Aims: Body mass index (BMI) is an inexpensive and easy-to-perform method of screening for weight status, which may have detrimental health consequences. The aim of our study was to assess the pattern of BMI among Nigerian adolescent secondary school girls and determine the prevalence of underweight, overweight and obesity among them.
Materials and Methods: In this school-based cross-sectional study, weight was measured, using the spring bathroom scale which was supported at all times on a rigid base. Height was measured without footwear with the heels together. The BMI was computed, using the formula weight/height2 (kg/m2). The BMI-for-age percentile chart was used in classifying the weight status of the subjects.
Results: A total of 2,159 girls from two public urban day secondary schools participated in the study. Seven students declined to participate, giving a response rate of 99.7%. The overall mean weight, height and body mass index (BMI) of the participants were 43.16±6.07 kg (95% confidence interval, CI= 42.90-43.42), 151.53±6.20 cm (95% CI=151.27-151.79) and 19.76±3.07 kg/m2 (95% CI= 19.63-19.89). The BMI values increased directly with age. Participants in the early adolescent stage demonstrated a significantly lower mean BMI value than either the middle or late adolescent stages. Based on WHO criteria, the prevalence rates of underweight, overweight and obesity were 7.1% (95% CI= 3.0-11.2), 8.3% (95% CI= 4.3-12.3) and 2.1% (95% CI= 2.0-6.2), respectively. The overall prevalence of healthy weight status was 82.5% (95% CI= 80.7-84.3). Conclusion: Nigerian adolescent secondary school girls are at increased risk of the double burden of nutrition as both underweight and overweight show a relatively similar prevalence rates.
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