There is no data on diet- and activity-related behaviors associated with overweight and obesity among Pakistani school-aged children. The study aimed to explore dietary behaviors, physical activity and sedentary lifestyle associated with overweight and obesity, and their socio-demographic correlates, among Pakistani primary school children.
A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted with a representative multistage random cluster sample of 1860 children aged five to twelve years in Lahore, Pakistan. Overweight (> +1 SD) and obesity (> +2 SD) were defined using the World Health Organization reference 2007. Chi-square test was used as the test of trend. Linear regression was used to examine the predictive power of independent variables in relation to body mass index (BMI). Logistic regression was used to quantify the independent predictors and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were obtained. Statistical significance was considered at P < 0.05.
Children skipping breakfast (8%), eating fast food and snacks ≥ once a week (43%) and being involved in sedentary lifestyle > one hour a day (49%) were significantly more likely to be overweight and obese while those participating in physical activity > twice a week (53%) were significantly less likely to be overweight and obese (all P < 0.01). Skipping breakfast (P < 0.001), eating fast food and snacks (P = 0.001) and sedentary lifestyle (P < 0.001) showed an independent positive association with BMI while physical activity showed an independent inverse association (P = 0.001). Skipping breakfast (aOR 1.82, 95% CI 1.22-2.71), eating fast food and snacks ≥ once a week (OR 1.41, 95% CI 1.07-1.86), physical activity > twice a week (aOR 0.49, 95% CI 0.34-0.70) and sedentary lifestyle > one hour a day (aOR 1.56, 95% CI 1.19-2.03) were independent predictors of being overweight. Skipping breakfast had independent inverse association with physical activity (aOR 0.63, 95% CI 0.45-0.89) and eating fast food and snacks had independent positive association with sedentary lifestyle (aOR 1.79, 95% CI 1.49-2.16). Female gender was independently associated with skipping breakfast (aOR 1.50, 95% CI 1.04-2.16). Male gender (aOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.33-2.02), urban area with high SES (aOR 5.09, 95% CI 3.02-8.60) and higher parental education (aOR 1.74, 95% CI 1.12-2.68) were significant independent predictors of eating fast food and snacks ≥ once a week. Living in the rural area was independently associated (aOR 2.51, 95% CI 1.71-3.68) with physical activity > twice a week. Male gender (aOR 1.60, 95% CI 1.31-1.95), urban area with low SES (aOR 1.46, 95% CI 1.02-2.09), high-income neighborhoods (aOR 1.52, 95% CI 1.02-2.25), higher parental education (aOR 1.55, 95% CI 1.03-2.34) and fewer siblings (aOR 1.38, 95% CI 1.10-1.73) were independent predictors of sedentary lifestyle > one hour a day.
Dietary behaviors, physical activity and sedentary lifestyle are independent predictors of overweight and higher BMI among Pakistani primary school children, and are significantly affected by the child's socio-demographic characteristics. These findings support the urgent need to develop a National strategy for diet and physical activity and to implement culturally relevant behavioral interventions in the resource-poor developing country settings.