Increased Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Birjand Adolescents Aged 15-18 Years from 2005 to 2012


Tooba Kazemi 1 , * , Fatemeh Taheri 2

How to Cite: Kazemi T, Taheri F. Increased Prevalence of Overweight and Obesity in Birjand Adolescents Aged 15-18 Years from 2005 to 2012, Iran J Pediatr. 2013 ; 23(6):720-721.


Iranian Journal of Pediatrics: 23 (6); 720-721
Published Online: August 26, 2013
Article Type: Letter
Received: June 24, 2013
Accepted: July 15, 2013



The prevalence of obesity and overweight in adolescents have been growing in recent decades worldwide[1]. Obesity in children and adolescents has been proposed as a major health problem in developed countries and in developing countries [2,3]. Obesity is considered as a major risk factor for chronic diseases. Obese adolescents have increased risk of metabolic syndrome. In addition, obesity in young age increases the risk of adult obesity, diabetes, hypertension and is  associated with cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in adulthood[4]. In Iran, like many developing countries, obesity in adolescents has increased in recent years due to lifestyle changes, nutrition transition and physical inactivity[5-8].
A cross-sectional study was carried out on 1104 school children, aged 15-18 years (614 girls and 490 boys) in Birjand, a city in eastern Iran from November to February 2012. Subjects were selected through multiple-cluster sampling. Aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in these groups. Weight and height of each subject was measured in standard manner. Then, body mass index (BMI) was measured. 85-95th percentiles were considered as overweight and ≥95th percentile as obese. Mean age of the subjects was 15.8±1.2 years, mean BMI 21.3±3.9. 6.5% (8.2% of boys and 5.2% of girls) were overweight and 8.2% of the children (7.8% of boy’s and.9% of girls) were obese.
Another study was conducted on 2330 Birjand students aged 15 -18 years in 2005-2006[9]. The results showed that 6.6% were overweight and 2.6% of children obese. Comparison of obesity in 2012 with those in 2005 in Birjand shows a dramatic increase, an increase of almost threefold, but little change has taken place in the prevalence of overweight. The overall incidence of overweight and obesity in 2005 was 8/4%[9], whereas in 2012 it was 14/9%, which means an increase of nearly twofold. This growing trend in the prevalence of overweight and obesity has been reported in Birjand primary school children[10] and in many developing countries[3] in recent years, so that obesity in Brazil has increased from 4/1% to 13/9% during 1974-1997, in Thailand from 12/2% to 15/6% during 1991-1993 and obesity in India reached 11/7% from 9/8% during 2006-2009[3].
Increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in Birjand adolescents, could be due to changes in food choices (such as high-energy-dense foods, salty, sugary foods and drinks instead of former healthier ones), greater availability of sugary drinks and less healthy foods on school campuses, advertising of less healthy foods through media targeted to children and adolescents, increased portion sizes of less healthy foods and beverages in restaurants, lack of daily and quality physical activity in all schools, spending a lot of time on sedentary pursuits (such as TV, computers, video games, cell phones, and movies), lack of safe and appealing place in many communities to play or be active[11].
In conclusion, obesity in children shows a critical increase compared to previous studies. It is necessary that health policies monitor children's weight and advise and support diet and lifestyle change to prevent the development of weight problems. The prevention and management of obesity in children should be considered a priority to have a bright future with least heart disease.

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