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Dietary and physical activity patterns of school children in an urban area of Sri Lanka.

Authors:

VP Wickramasinghe ,

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About VP
Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
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Sanath P Lamabadusuriya,

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About Sanath
Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
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N Atapattu,

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About N
Professorial Unit, Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo
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G Sathyadas,

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About G
Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo
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S Kuruparananthan,

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About S
Professorial Unit, Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo
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P Karunaratne

Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, LK
About P
Professorial Unit, Lady Ridgeway Hospital, Colombo
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Abstract

ObjectiveTo provide information on nutritional status and dietary and physical activity pattern of 8-12 year old school children in an urban area of Sri Lanka.

Method Seven schools in Colombo were randomly selected. These schools showed a fair representation of children of all social levels. Students of years 4, 5, 6 and 7 were included. 50 students from each grade of each school were randomly selected and recruited into study. The purpose of study was explained to the students and any withdrawals allowed. Medical officers performed the anthropometric measurements. Height was measured using a stadiometer and weight using an electronic weighing scale. Medical assessment was done in all children who participated in study. To define obesity and overweight, sex and age specific body mass index (BMI) cutoffs recommended by International Obesity Task Force were used. Age and sex specific BMI 5th percentile from revised NCHS (2000) growth charts were used to define thinness. Information regarding physical activity, behaviour, feeding practices and socioeconomic factors were obtained using a pretested questionnaire filled by parent/guardian. Data was analyzed using Epi Info 2000 (CDC, USA) software.

Results One thousand two hundred and sixty six children were recruited to the study. Data of 1224 subjects were used in the anthropometric analysis, while 1102 data sets were used in analysis of dietary and physical activity. Of the latter group 44% were boys. The children belonged to 3 types of schools based on type of administration. About 12% each were from ages 8 and 12; the rest were almost equally distributed among the other 3 age categories. More than 80% of mothers had a level of education above GCE (O/L). 60.8% watched television for 1-2 hours each day during weekdays and 39.5% watched television for 3-4 hours during weekends. More than 50% engaged in daily physical activity for more than one hour during weekdays as well as weekends. 80.1% attended tuition classes. A similar distribution was seen in all age groups. Although consumption of vegetables was high, fruit consumption was not satisfactory. Majority had eggs or fish as their main source of protein. Prevalence of obesity and overweight increased with increase in family income and thinness was high among low socio-economic groups. Dental caries was the commonest health problem. Highest prevalence was among children from public non-national schools (48.7%), whilst public national and private schools had a prevalence of 10.5% and 11.8% respectively. Of the skin lesions commonest was scabies.

Conclusion The main factor that influenced the nutritional status and related behaviour was the socioeconomic standard. Health programmes should be designed targeting these groups.

How to Cite: Wickramasinghe, V., Lamabadusuriya, S.P., Atapattu, N., Sathyadas, G., Kuruparananthan, S. and Karunaratne, P., 2009. Dietary and physical activity patterns of school children in an urban area of Sri Lanka.. Sri Lanka Journal of Child Health, 34(2), pp.44–49. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljch.v34i2.551
Published on 02 Jul 2009.
Peer Reviewed

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