n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - Childhood overweight and obesity patterns in South Africa : a review - : health

Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


The prevalence of childhood obesity has been rapidly increasing over the last decade in both developed and developing countries. To combat the increasing prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in South Africa, it is essential to understand the extent and intrinsic patterns of the epidemic among children in this developing country. The purpose of this study was to review the available South African literature with regard to the prevalence and intrinsic patterns of childhood overweight and obesity, focusing on gender, ethnic differences and socioeconomic status. The method entailed an extensive search of several data bases, with inclusion criteria of representative studies regarding the health status of overweight and obesity levels of children up to 12 years of age, during the last decade (1998 - 2008). Eleven studies met the inclusion criteria and were retrieved and reviewed, using an adapted meta-analytic approach. The results show that South African children exhibit high levels of overweight and obesity, especially in urban areas. Girls are more overweight than boys, with increasing overweight when they get older. White children show the highest levels of overweight up to age 11, after which black girls show the highest frequencies. Overweight is also associated with urbanisation and both high and low socioeconomic status. In light of the results, recommendations are made for prevention and intervention strategies and further study.

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