Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Family-based factors associated with overweight and obesity among Pakistani primary school children

Muhammad Umair Mushtaq12*, Sibgha Gull1, Ubeera Shahid1, Mahar Muhammad Shafique1, Hussain Muhammad Abdullah1, Mushtaq Ahmad Shad2 and Arif Mahmood Siddiqui1

Author Affiliations

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

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

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BMC Pediatrics 2011, 11:114  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-11-114

Published: 16 December 2011



Childhood obesity epidemic is now penetrating the developing countries including Pakistan, especially in the affluent urban population. There is no data on association of family-based factors with overweight and obesity among school-aged children in Pakistan. The study aimed to explore the family-based factors associated with overweight and obesity among Pakistani primary school children.


A population-based cross-sectional study was conducted with a representative multistage cluster sample of 1860 children aged five to twelve years in Lahore, Pakistan. Overweight (> +1SD BMI-for-age z-score) and obesity (> +2SD BMI-for-age z-score) were defined using the World Health Organization reference 2007. Chi-square test was used as the test of trend. Linear regression was used to examine the predictive power of independent variables in relation to BMI. Logistic regression was used to quantify the independent predictors of overweight and adjusted odds ratios (aOR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were obtained. All regression analyses were controlled for age and gender and statistical significance was considered at P < 0.05.


Significant family-based correlates of overweight and obesity included higher parental education (P < 0.001), both parents working (P = 0.002), fewer siblings (P < 0.001), fewer persons in child's living room (P < 0.001) and residence in high-income neighborhoods (P < 0.001). Smoking in living place was not associated with overweight and obesity. Higher parental education (P < 0.001) and living in high-income neighborhoods (P < 0.001) showed a significant independent positive association with BMI while greater number of siblings (P = 0.001) and persons in child's living room (P = 0.022) showed a significant independent inverse association. College-level or higher parental education as compared to high school-level or lower parental education (aOR 2.54, 95% CI 1.76-3.67), living in high-income neighborhoods as compared to low-income neighborhoods (aOR 2.13, 95% CI 1.31-3.46) and three or less siblings as compared to more than three siblings (aOR 1.75, 95% CI 1.26-2.42) were significant independent predictors of overweight.


Family-based factors were significantly associated with overweight and obesity among school-aged children in Pakistan. Higher parental education, living in high-income neighborhoods and fewer siblings were independent predictors of overweight. These findings support the need to design evidence-based child health policy and implement targeted interventions, considering the impact of family-based factors and involving communities.