Prevalence and socioeconomic correlates of growth impairment among Saudi children and adolescents
Abdulrahman Al-Hussaini1, Muhammad Salman Bashir2, Musa Khormi3, Wahid Alkhamis4, Mona Alrajhi5, Thana Halal4
1 Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Children's Specialized Hospital, King Fahad Medical City; College of Medicine, Alfaisal University; Prince Abdullah bin Khalid Celiac Disease Research Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Department of Biostatistics, Research Services Administration, Research Center at King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
3 Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Children's Hospital, King Saud Medical City, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
4 Ministry of Health, School Health Administration, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
5 Family Medicine Specialist, Geriatric Care and Osteoporosis Control Program Coordinator, Ministry of Health, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Consultant Pediatrician, Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, Alfaisal University, Children's Specialized Hospital, King Fahad Medical City, P. O. Box 59046, Riyadh – 11525
Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None
Background: Saudi Arabia has witnessed economic prosperity leading to changes in diet and lifestyle. Concurrent with these changes, the prevalence rates of overweight and obesity are rising. No recent data exist on the trends and pattern of growth impairment among Saudi children. We aimed to provide the most recent estimate of the prevalence of thinness and short stature among healthy school-aged children in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and to investigate the effect of parental socioeconomic status (SES) on growth impairment.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2015 among schoolchildren in Riyadh. A sample of 7931 children (67% girls) aged 6–16 years was randomly selected. Body mass index (BMI) z-score <−2 SD and height z-score <−2 SD, for age and sex, using the WHO reference 2007, defined thinness and short stature, respectively. To assess the impact of SES on growth, we categorized SES into 4 levels by incorporating 4 main indicators: parents' educational level, family income, type of residence, and parents' jobs.
Results: The prevalence of short stature was 15%, and the prevalence of thinness was 3.5%. Stratification of the thinness prevalence rate according to gender indicated that boys were significantly thinner than girls (4.7% versus 2.8%, P = 0.048). Short stature was significantly higher among children in the lower SES classes than among their counterparts in the higher SES classes. Parents of thin children were more likely to be less educated, have less income, live in apartments, and have a lower SES than parents of overweight and obese children.
Conclusions: The rate of thinness among Saudi children is low, similar to that in developed countries, and is significantly correlated with SES.