ETHNICITY AND INCOME IMPACT ON BMI AND STATURE OF SCHOOL CHILDREN LIVING IN URBAN SOUTHERN MEXICO.J Biosoc Sci. 2016 Mar; 48(2):143-57.JB
Obesity affects quality of life and increases the risk of morbidity and mortality. Mexico, a middle-income country, has a high prevalence of overweight and obesity among urban children. Merida is the most populated and growing city in southern Mexico with a mixed Mayan and non-Maya population. Local urbanization and access to industrialized foods have impacted the eating habits and physical activity of children, increasing the risk of overweight and obesity. This study aimed to contribute to the existing literature on the global prevalence of overweight and obesity and examined the association of parental income, ethnicity and nutritional status with body mass index (BMI) and height in primary school children in Merida. The heights and weights of 3243 children aged 6-12 from sixteen randomly selected schools in the city were collected between April and December 2012. Multinomial logistic regression models were used to examine differences in the prevalence of BMI and height categories (based on WHO reference values) by ethnicity and income levels. Of the total students, 1648 (50.9%) were overweight or obese. Stunting was found in 227 children (7%), while 755 (23.3%) were defined as having short stature. Combined stunting and overweight/obesity was found in 301 students (9.3%) and twelve (0.4%) were classified as stunted and of low weight. Having two Mayan surnames was inversely associated with having adequate height (OR=0.69, p<0.05) and the presence of two Maya surnames in children increased the odds of short stature and stunting. Children from lower income families had twice the odds of being stunted and obese. Overweight, obesity and short stature were frequent among the studied children. A significant proportion of Meridan children could face an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease and its associated negative economic and social outcomes unless healthier habits are adopted. Action is needed to reduce the prevalence of obesity among southern Mexican families of all ethnic groups, particularly those of lower income.