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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 56  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 103-108

Knowledge and attitudes towards obesity among primary school children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania


1 Executive Director, Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam; Department of Physiology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
2 Clinical Trial Unit, Africa Academy for Public Health, Dar es Salaam; Interventions Thematic Group, Ifakara Health Institute, Ifakara, Morogoro, Tanzania
3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
4 Department of Developmental Studies, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
5 Department of Physiology, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
6 Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Correspondence Address:
Alfa Muhihi
Africa Academy for Public Health, CM Plaza, Mwai Kibaki road, P.O.Box 79810, Dar es Salaam
Tanzania
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0300-1652.150692

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Background: Childhood obesity has increased over the past two decades. Child obesity is likely to persist through adulthood and increases the risk of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) later in life. This study assessed knowledge and attitudes towards obesity among primary school children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in randomly selected primary schools in Dar es Salaam. A structured questionnaire was used to assess the knowledge and attitudes. Anthropometric and blood pressure measurements were taken using standard procedures. Results: A total of 446 children were included in the analysis. The mean age of the participants was 11.1 ± 2.0 years. The mean body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were 16.6 ± 4.0 kg/m 2 , 103.9 ± 10.3 mmHg and 65.6 ± 8.2 mmHg, respectively. Prevalence of obesity (defined as BMI >95 th percentile for age and sex) was 5.2%. Half of the children (51.1%) had heard about obesity from teachers at school (20%), radio (19.4%) and books/newspaper (17.3%). Less than half (45.4%) had knowledge about the risk factors for childhood obesity and correctly defined obesity (44.6%). However, a good number of the children (72.1%) were aware that they can be affected by obesity. Majority of them had negative attitude towards obesity and various factors leading to or resulting from childhood obesity. Conclusions: Knowledge about childhood obesity among primary school children is moderate and have negative attitude towards obesity. Integrating educational programs early in primary schools may be an effective strategy to impact knowledge about obesity and other non-communicable diseases early in childhood.


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