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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Waist circumference, waist-hip ratio and waist-height ratio percentiles and central obesity among Pakistani children aged five to twelve years

Muhammad Umair Mushtaq12*, Sibgha Gull1, Hussain Muhammad Abdullah1, Ubeera Shahid1, Mushtaq Ahmad Shad2 and Javed Akram1

Author affiliations

1 Ubeera Memorial Research Society, Allama Iqbal Medical College, Lahore 54000, Pakistan

2 District Health Office Nankana Sahib, Punjab Department of Health, Nankana Sahib 39100, Pakistan

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Citation and License

BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:105  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-105

Published: 21 November 2011

Abstract

Background

Central obesity has been associated with the risk of cardiovascular and metabolic disease in children and anthropometric indices predictive of central obesity include waist circumference (WC), waist-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-height ratio (WHtR). South Asian children have higher body fat distribution in the trunk region but the literature regarding WC and related indices is scarce in this region. The study was aimed to provide age- and gender-specific WC, WHR and WHtR smoothed percentiles, and to explore prevalence and correlates of central obesity, among Pakistani children aged five to twelve years.

Methods

A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted with a representative multistage random cluster sample of 1860 primary school children aged five to twelve years in Lahore, Pakistan. Smoothed percentile curves were constructed for WC, WHR and WHtR by the LMS method. Central obesity was defined as having both age- and gender-specific WC percentile ≥90th and WHtR ≥0.5. Chi-square test was used as the test of trend. Multivariate logistic regression was used to quantify the independent predictors of central obesity and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% CI were obtained. Linear regression was used to explore the independent determinants of WC and WHtR. Statistical significance was considered at P < 0.05.

Results

First ever age- and gender-specific smoothed WC, WHR and WHtR reference curves for Pakistani children aged five to twelve years are presented. WC increased with age among both boys and girls. Fiftieth WC percentile curves for Pakistani children were higher as compared to those for Hong Kong and British children, and were lower as compared to those for Iranian, German and Swiss children. WHR showed a plateau pattern among boys while plateau among girls until nine years of age and decreased afterwards. WHtR was age-independent among both boys and girls, and WHtR cut-off of ≥0.5 for defining central obesity corresponded to 85th WHtR percentile irrespective of age and gender. Twelve percent children (95% CI 10.1-13.0) had a WC ≥90th percentile and 16.5% children (95% CI 14.7-18.1) had a WHtR ≥0.5 while 11% children (95% CI 8.9-11.6) had both WC ≥90th percentile and WHtR ≥0.5. Significant predictors of central obesity included higher grade, urban area with high socioeconomic status (SES), high-income neighborhood and higher parental education. Children studying in higher grade (aOR 5.11, 95% CI 1.76-14.85) and those living in urban area with high SES (aOR 82.34, 95% CI 15.76-430.31) showed a significant independent association. Urban area with high SES and higher parental education showed a significant independent association with higher WC and higher WHtR while higher grade showed a significant independent association with higher WC.

Conclusions

Comprehensive worldwide reference values are needed to define central obesity and the present study is the first one to report anthropometric indices predictive of central obesity for Pakistani school-aged children. Eleven percent children were centrally obese and strong predictors included higher grade, urban area with high SES and higher parental education. These findings support the need for developing a National strategy for childhood obesity and implementing targeted interventions, prioritizing the higher social class and involving communities.