Background: Obesity is one of the main risk factors of chronic diseases in adults. Children obesity is related to adulthood obesity. Some studies indicate that there is an association between unhealthy food habits and obesity.
Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the association between obesity, unhealthy food habits, and nutritional knowledge of primary school children.
Patients and Methods: This cross-sectional survey was carried out to study obesity, unhealthy food habits, nutritional knowledge and measuring weight, height and waist circumference of 221 grade 4 students, selected by cluster sampling in primary schools of Shiraz, southern Iran. Also a questionnaire about their nutritional knowledge, socioeconomic status, and frequency of food consumption was filled out for each of them. The statistical analysis of data was performed using SPSS version 19.
Results: Mean ± standard deviation of body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) were 18.50 ± 4.99 (kg/m 2) and 63.17 ± 8.12 (cm), respectively. The prevalence of obesity, overweight, and central obesity were 14.97%, 15.45%, 38.3%, respectively. Intake of dairy (1.67 ± 1.12 serving/d) and fruits with vegetables (3.09 ± 1.93 serving/wk) were significantly less than the recommended amounts (P ˂ 0.001). The respective frequency of fast food and sweets consumption were 2.37 ± 2.30 (serving/wk) and 18.54 ± 12.42 (serving/wk). Students with better nutritional knowledge had higher BMI and WC and showed no differences in food intakes but fast foods. Moreover, there were no significant differences in food habits among the normal, overweight, and obese students.
Conclusions: The results of our study indicated that high prevalence of obesity among children in fourth grade of primary schools in Shiraz was not the result of unhealthy food habits, but may be affected more by total energy intake or inactivity. Also, it seems that parents’ concerns about the health status of their obese children have led to better nutritional knowledge of their youngsters.