Body composition profiles of 14-year-old adolescents attending high schools within the Tlokwe municipality area : the PAHL-study
Joubert, Jordan Daniel
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Globally, overweight and obesity in childhood has already reached pandemic proportions, and this condition is associated with various health problems such as, insulin-resistance, Type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, ischaemic heart disease, and stroke. Overweight and obesity are increasing in most countries, especially developing countries where the rates of obesity have tripled in those that have adapted a Western lifestyle. In low- and middle-income populations, particularly in urban areas, overweight and obesity in children is on the increase. Thus body composition profiles are used to determine the risk category of children such as underweight, normal, overweight, and obese. Overweight and obesity have a negative impact on both the physical and psychological levels of well-being during childhood and adolescence. Research on African and South African children living in rural areas on the body composition and prevalence rates will provide an opportunity to understand the role of development in children and adolescents and the importance thereof. The purpose of this study was to determine the status of body composition and the effect of gender, age, and race on body composition. This dissertation comprises four chapters, of which one chapter can be read independently as it is written in the form of a research article. MAIN FINDINGS A literature review was conducted to gain more insight regarding body composition status of children throughout the world, and in Africa and South Africa, and the role that body composition plays in children and adolescents. The importance of these aspects is highlighted and discussed in Chapter Two. Cross-sectional data on a total of 280 learners (109 boys and 171 girls) aged 14 years, who are part of the Physical Activity Longitudinal Study from the Tlokwe municipality area, are participants in the study. Body mass, stature, and skin folds were used to determine body composition and body mass index of the participants. All data was analysed using SPSS Version 21.0 (SPSS Inc., 2012). The statistical level was set at p-value ≤ 0.05. The results of this study indicate that out of 280 learners 13.1% are overweight, 29.1% normal weight and 57.8% underweight. Boys had a lower overweight value when compared to the girls (9.1% vs 15.7%). In addition, the results show that African girls had a higher prevalence for overweight (15.8% vs 15.4%) than their Caucasian counterparts. As for the impact of gender, age and race-independent effects on body composition or BMI, the results also show no significant (p ≥ 0.05) age-independent effect on body composition measures of percentage body fat, sum of six skin folds, fat free mass and waist-to-height ratio. In conclusion, overweight and obesity is a growing problem among children and adolescents, especially African girls and Caucasian girls in the Tlokwe municipality. Furthermore, recommendations are made about the implementation of school-screening programmes in semi-urban areas. The role of the government, parents, and teachers, and the importance of health professionals must also be considered.