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1.  Dual burden of body weight among Iranian children and adolescents in 2003 and 2010: the CASPIAN-III study 
Our aim was to compare changes of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) curves of Iranian children by comparing the results of two national surveys of a surveillance program, i.e. CASPIAN-I (2003–2004) and CASPIAN-III (2009–2010). The second objective was to evaluate the prevalence of obesity, overweight and underweight among 10–18-year-old Iranian children and adolescents.
Material and methods
This study was performed among students who were selected by multistage random cluster sampling from urban and rural areas of 27 provinces of Iran, as part of a national survey of school student high risk behavior entitled CASPIAN-III, conducted in 2009–2010.
We evaluated 5088 school students (50.2% boys). In rural areas, underweight was more common in boys and overweight and obesity in girls. In urban areas underweight and obesity were more common in boys, whereas overweight was more common in girls. The highest prevalence of underweight (23.5%) was seen in students aged 13 years and the lowest (11.4%) in those aged 18 years. Underweight was significantly more common in rural than in urban areas (22.1% vs. 15.8%, respectively, p < 0.0001) and overweight/obesity was more common in urban than in rural areas. Compared with the findings in 2003–2004, the overall prevalence of elevated body mass index (16.6%) including obesity (9.1%) and overweight (7.5%) as well as underweight (17.5%) increased from 2003 to 2010.
In recent years, the double burden of nutritional disorders has increased among Iranian children and adolescents, especially in rural areas. This change may be related to epidemiologic transition, notably in terms of nutrition transition and rapid changes in lifestyle habits. This finding is an important issue for policy-makers for interventional preventive programs.
PMCID: PMC3953979  PMID: 24701221
obesity; underweight; waist circumference; body mass index; pediatric age
2.  Inequality in School Readiness and Autism among 6-Year-Old Children across Iranian Provinces: National Health Assessment Survey Results 
Iranian Journal of Pediatrics  2013;23(1):71-78.
To assess the national inequality of school readiness and autism among 6-year-old Iranian children before school entry using a national health assessment survey.
In a cross-sectional nationwide survey, all Iranian children entering public and private elementary schools were asked to participate in a mandatory national screening program in Iran in 2009 in two levels of screening and diagnostic levels.
The study population consisted of 955388 children (48.5% girls and 76.1% urban residents). Of the whole children, 3.1% of the 6-year-old children had impaired vision. In addition, 1.2, 1.8, 1.4, 7.6, 0.08, 10, 10.9, 56.7, 0.7, 0.8 and 0.6 percent had color blindness, hearing impaired, speech disorder, school readiness, autism, height to age retardation, body mass index extremes, decayed teeth, disease with special needs, spinal disorders, and hypertension, respectively. The distribution of these disorders was unequally distributed across provinces.
Our results confirmed that there is an inequality in distribution of school readiness and autism in 6-year-old children across Iranian provinces. The observed burden of these distributions among young children needs a comprehensive national policy with evidence-based province programs to identify the reason for different inequality among provinces.
PMCID: PMC3574995  PMID: 23550225
National Health Assessment Survey; School Readiness; Autism; Children; Inequality; Iran
3.  First National Report on Aminotransaminases’ Percentiles in Children of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): the CASPIAN-III Study 
Hepatitis Monthly  2012;12(11):e7711.
By the current global obesogenic environment, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming an important health problem in the pediatric age group.
This study aimed to determine the first age-and gender-specific percentiles and upper limit normal limit (ULN) of alanine aminotransaminase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransaminase (AST) among a nationally-representative sample of children and adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The second objective was to determine the linear association of obesity indexes and age with serum ALT and AST levels.
Patients and Methods
This nationwide study was conducted among a representative sample of 4078 students aged 10-18 years, who were selected by multistage random cluster sampling from 27 provinces of Iran. ALT and AST were measured on fresh sera. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated as an index of generalized obesity, and waist- to- height ratio (WHtR) as an index of abdominal obesity. The age- and gender-specific percentiles of ALT and AST were constructed, and the 95th percentile of each enzyme was considered as the ULN. Gender-specific linear regression analysis was employed to examine the association of BMI or WHtR with the levels of ALT and AST.
Data of ALT and AST were available for 4078 (2038 girls) and 4150 (2061 girls),respectively. Participants had a mean (SD) age of 14.71 (2.41).The ULN of ALT for boys, girls,and the total individuals were 36.00; 38.00; and, 37.00 U/L, respectively. In both genders, ALT and AST had linear association with age. The association with BMI was significant for ALT in both genders and for AST only in boys, the association of ALT with WHtR was significant in both genders; the corresponding figures were not significant for AST.
The findings of the current study confirmed the current ULN value of 40 U/L commonly used for the pediatric age group. The linear association of indexes for generalized and abdominal obesity with ALT underscores the importance of timely prevention and control of childhood obesity.
PMCID: PMC3546518  PMID: 23346152
Aminotransferase; Child; Iran
4.  Development and Evaluation of a Questionnaire for Assessment of Determinants of Weight Disorders among Children and Adolescents: The Caspian-IV Study 
Little experience exists on valid and reliable tools for assessment of the determinants of underweight and overweight in children and adolescents living in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA). This study aimed to develop a valid and wideranging questionnaire for assessment of these parameters in a nationwide sample of Iranian children and adolescents.
This national study was conducted in 31 provinces in Iran. The first phase consisted of focus group discussion with 275 children and adolescents and their parents. After a qualitative content analysis, the initial items were extracted. In the next step, the face validity was assessed by expert panelists using the quantitative method of the Impact Score. To assess the content validity, the content validity rate (CVR) and the content validity index (CVI) were determined. The internal consistency was examined by Cronbach alpha, and its test-retest reliability was determined. The socio-demographic variables, perinatal factors, lifestyle factors, family history, knowledge and attitude were assessed. Dietary intakes were assessed by a validated 168-item semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. A validated questionnaire for quality of life was filled in anonymously.
A team of expert researchers conducted the data analysis of 576 interviews by using qualitative content analysis method. The analysis process began by determining the semantic units about the concepts studied. The initial questionnaire was developed in four domains by including Likert scale questions. In the face validity step, all questions of the primary questionnaire obtained a score of more than 1.5. In the phase of CVR assessment, 6 questions obtained a score of less than 0.62, and were omitted. The rest of questions were assessed for CVI, and got a score of more than 0.75. Cronbach's alpha coefficient of the whole questionnaire was 0.97, and the Pearson correlation coefficient of the test-retest phase was 0.94.
The developed questionnaire is a valid and reliable tool for assessment of the determinants of weight disorders in a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents in the MENA.
PMCID: PMC3482997  PMID: 23112896
Children and adolescents; overweight; questionnaire validity; underweight
5.  First growth curves based on the World Health Organization reference in a Nationally-Representative Sample of Pediatric Population in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): the CASPIAN-III study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:149.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is in the process of establishing a new global database on the growth of school children and adolescents. Limited national data exist from Asian children, notably those living in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). This study aimed to generate the growth chart of a nationally representative sample of Iranian children aged 10–19 years, and to explore how well these anthropometric data match with international growth references.
In this nationwide study, the anthropometric data were recorded from Iranian students, aged 10–19 years, who were selected by multistage random cluster sampling from urban and rural areas. Prior to the analysis, outliers were excluded from the features height-for-age and body mass index (BMI)-for-age using the NCHS/WHO cut-offs. The Box-Cox power exponential (BCPE) method was used to calculate height-for-age and BMI-for-age Z-scores for our study participants. Then, children with overweight, obesity, thinness, and severe thinness were identified using the BMI-for-age z-scores. Moreover, stunted children were detected using the height-for-age z-scores. The growth curve of the Iranian children was then generated from the z-scores, smoothed by cubic S-plines.
The study population comprised 5430 school students consisting of 2312 (44%) participants aged 10–14 years , and 3118 (58%) with 15–19 years of age. Eight percent of the participants had low BMI (thinness: 6% and severe thinness: 2%), 20% had high BMI (overweight: 14% and obesity: 6%), and 7% were stunted. The prevalence rates of low and high BMI were greater in boys than in girls (P < 0.001). The mean BMI-for-age, and the average height-for-age of Iranian children aged 10–19 years were lower than the WHO 2007 and United states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 (USCDC2000) references.
The current growth curves generated from a national dataset may be included for establishing WHO global database on children’s growth. Similar to most low-and middle income populations, Iranian children aged 10–19 years are facing a double burden of weight disorders, notably under- and over- nutrition, which should be considered in public health policy-making.
PMCID: PMC3471000  PMID: 22985219
Growth; Iran; Reference curve; Weight disorder
6.  Methodology and Early Findings of the Third Survey of CASPIAN Study: A National School-based Surveillance of Students’ High Risk Behaviors 
A school-based surveillance system entitled the childhood and adolescence surveillance and prevention of Adult Noncommunicable disease (CASPIAN) Study is implemented at national level in Iran. This paper presents the methods and primary findings of the third survey of this surveillance system.
This national survey was performed in 2009–2010 in 27 provinces of Iran among 5570 students and one of their parents. In addition to physical examination, fasting serum was obtained. Body mass index was categorized based on the World Health Organization growth charts.
Data of 5528 students (2726 girls, 69.37% urban, mean age 14.7 ± 2.4 years) were complete and are reported. Overall, 17.3% (17.3% of girls and 17.5% of boys) were underweight, and 17.7% (15.5% of girls and 19.9% of boys) were overweight or obese. Abdominal obesity was documented in 16.3% of students (17.8% of girls and 15% of boys). 57.6% of families consumed breads, the staple food for Iranians, prepared with white flour. Most families (43.8% in urban areas and 58.6% in rural areas) used solid hydrogenated fats. 22.7% of students did not add salt to the table food. 14.2% of students reported to have a regular daily physical activity for at least 30 min a day. Overall, 10.4% of students (11.7% in urban areas and 7.3% in rural areas) reported that they used tobacco products, often waterpipe. 32.8% of students experienced at least three times of bullying in the previous 3 months. During the year prior to the survey, 14.46% of students had an injury needing the interference by school health providers.
This survey is confirmatory evidence on the importance of establishing surveillance systems for risk behaviors to implement action-oriented interventions.
PMCID: PMC3389436  PMID: 22783465
Chronic diseases; prevention; risk behaviors; risk factors; school health; surveillance
7.  Secular trends in the national prevalence of overweight and obesity during 2007-2009 in 6-year-old Iranian children 
This study aimed to determine the secular trends in the national prevalence of overweight and obesity among 6-year-old Iranian children, and to compare the results in Northern, Central and Southern parts of the country.
The data were collected as part of a routine and mandatory national screening program on children entering elementary schools in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
The study population comprised 2,600,065 children including 862,433 in 2007, 782,244 in 2008 and 955,388 in 2009. Of total children 12.8%, 13.5% and 10.9% were overweight in 2007, 2008 and 2009, respectively (P > 0.05). The corresponding figures for obesity were 3.4%, 3.5% and 3.4%, respectively (P > 0.05). In all surveys, the prevalence of overweight was higher in Southern region than in the other two regions. P for trend was not significant for prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in any of the regions.
To the best of our knowledge, this study was the first of its kind in presenting the nationwide trend of overweight and obesity in young children living in a developing country. It showed a considerably high prevalence of overweight and obesity, but with a constant rate in three years. The higher prevalence of overweight in Southern region than in Central and Northern regions might be related to the lower socioeconomic position of this population. At a very young age, children's lifestyle is more under control of parents. Primordial and primary prevention efforts against the overweight epidemic can be effective and shall be further strengthened.
PMCID: PMC3263092  PMID: 22279471
Prevalence; Trend; Overweight; Children; National Study; Iran

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