Prevalence of obesity in school-going children of Karachi

Haider Javed Warraich, Faisal Javed, Mohammed Faraz-ul-Haq, Fariha Batool Khawaja, Sarah Saleem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Obesity is an emerging problem in Pakistan. The authors sought to determine prevalence of obesity and malnutrition in school-going children, from grades 6th to 8th of different schools of Karachi and assess associations that affect the weight of the children. Methodology/Principal Findings: A cross sectional study design with children studying in grades 6th to 8th grade, in different schools of Karachi. We visited 10 schools of which 4 consented; two subsidized government schools and two private schools. A questionnaire was developed in consultation with a qualified nutritionist. Height and weight were measured on calibrated scales. A modified BMI criterion for Asian populations was used. Data was collected from 284 students. Of our sample, 52% were found to be underweight whereas 34% of all the children were normal. Of the population, 6% was obese and 8% overweight. Of all obese children, 70% belonged to the higher socio-economic status (SES) group, while of the underweight children, 63.3% were in the lower SES. Amongst obese children in our study, 65% ate meat every day, compared to 33% of normal kids. Conclusion: Obesity and undernutrition co-exist in Pakistani school-children. Our study shows that socio-economic factors are important since obesity and overweight increase with SES. Higher SES groups should be targeted for overweight while underweight is a problem of lower SES. Meat intake and lack of physical activity are some of the other factors that have been highlighted in our study.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4816
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2009


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