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Revista Costarricense de Ciencias Médicas

Print version ISSN 0253-2948


FERNANDEZ-RAMIREZ, Aileen  and  MONCADA-JIMENEZ, José. Obesidad y sobrepeso en la población estudiantil costarricense entre los 8 y 17 años. Rev. costarric. cienc. méd [online]. 2003, vol.24, n.3-4, pp.95-113. ISSN 0253-2948.

Child and adolescent obesity is increasing worldwide. It has been shown that this condition is closely related to several risk factors for chronic diseases. However, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in these populations has been difficult to quantify due to the wide variety of definitions used. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Costa Rican students aged 8-17 years. A national-representative sample of 9990 subjects was randomly selected from Costa Rican elementary and high-school institutions. In order to define overweight and obesity, the sex-and age specific body mass index (BMI) cutoffs recommended by the World Heath Organization (WHO) and by the International Obesity TaskForce (IOTF) were selected. The triceps skinfold thickness was also used as a criteria for adiposity. Females had higher IMC and adiposity than boys at all ages, and both parameters increased with age, especially in female students starting at 12 years of age. The global prevalence rates for males and females in the different age groups were 14.9 to 23.3% (overweight 8 -11 yrs.), 4.8 to 9.9%. (Obese 8-11 yrs.), 14.9 to 21.6%  (Overweight 12-17 yrs.), 2.2 to 9.8% (Obese 12-17 yrs.). These rates tended to be higher in girls than in boys and also were higher when the IOTF cutoffs were used in comparison with the WHO criteria. The highest prevalence rate for obesity in this Costa Rican sample was achieved when the 90th percentile of the triceps skinfold thickness was used as the criteria. In summary, the prevalence of overweight in Costa Rican students was between 15 to 23% and the prevalence of obesity between 2.2 to 9.8%. These rates change according to age, sex, and when different criteria to define overweight and obesity are used.

Keywords : overweight; obesity; prevalence; children; adolescents.

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