: There has been a great increase in the worldwide prevalence of childhood and adolescent obesity and secondary diseases such as diabetes mellitus type II in recent years. However, there is insufficient data regarding this topic in Qatar and the Gulf region.

To assess obesity prevalence among schoolchildren and adolescents (6–18 years) in independent schools in Qatar.

This cross-sectional study was conducted in independent schools selected by the Supreme Council of Education in Qatar. Participants were sampled from schools managed by the Ministry of Education in Qatar using a multi-stage random selection with clusters being school type (primary, preparatory, secondary), grade, class section and gender of students. Two questionnaires translated to Arabic (one for grade 4 and one for grade 8 and 11) were used, and weight and height were measured using a portable stadiometer. Ethical board approvals as well as parental permission and students’ assent were obtained.

Data was collected from 19 schools (7 elementary, 6 middle and 6 high schools). Total of 480 children and 1,333 adolescents were enrolled. Height and weight were measured, and body mass index (BMI) was calculated using Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. Overall prevalence of obesity among: a) Grade 4 was 23.3% (27.7% boys and 18.3% girls), b) Grade 8 was 22.4%, (22.2% boys and 22.9% girls), and c) Grade 11 was 17.5% (24% boys and 12.2% girls). Grade 4 and 11 boys were (1.7 and 2.6 times respectively) more likely to be obese than girls, while in grade 8 there was no statistically significant difference among genders. The rates of obesity for all grades were higher than the American rate of 16.9% for children between the ages of 2 to 19 years by National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

There is a high prevalence of obesity amongst schoolchildren and adolescents in Qatar, boys more than girls. This pilot study highlights the need for a bigger scale study to further evaluate obesity among children and adolescents and start concrete interventions.


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