Learning Objective 1: Cite the importance and health consequences of the worldwide childhood obesity epidemic.
Learning Objective 2: Discuss trends in low-income preschooler obesity/overweight, including health policies and interventions that may have affected trends.
This longitudinal prevalence study compares 2005 and 2010 overweight/obesity trends in representative samples of low-income Head Start preschoolers.
Significance: Child obesity is a significant global nursing issue because of its’ negative health consequences.
Framework: Child obesity is of concern to nurses due to the risk of early onset of obesity-related illnesses and the potential longevity of lifetime exposure to those illnesses. Approximately 21% of Mississippi Head Start (low-income) preschoolers are obese, compared to 14% for USA low-income preschoolers, and have many risk factors including obese family members, poverty, and low breastfeeding rates. Weight trend analyses are necessary for disease surveillance and health policy evaluation.
Chi-Square analyses were used to compare the 2005 (N=1250) and 2010 (N=1765) Body Mass Indexes of Mississippi Head Start preschoolers. Standardized measurement and analysis procedures were used in both of these two-stage stratified randomized probability design prevalence studies, which resulted in comparative, representative samples.
Chi-square analyses revealed that overall obesity rates between 2005 (20.6%) and 2010 (20.8%) had not changed, nor had the overall obesity rates between 2005 and 2010 for Black and White boys, or Black girls; however, White girls’ rates significantly declined from 2005 (23.5% versus 14.8%, p=0.04). Age group comparisons indicated declines in rates of 3-year-olds (20.3% versus 13.1%, p=0.05).
Analyses for overall overweight rates indicated insignificant changes between 2005 (17.9%) and 2010 (17.0%). However, increases were found in White boys (8.5% versus 17.1%, p=0.04), and decreases were found in Black boys (19.6% versus 15.9%, p=0.05). Black and White girls had no significant changes.
These findings, while indicating high obesity rates for Mississippi low-income preschoolers, mimic the trend toward stabilization of overall obesity/overweight rates noted in other USA preschool populations, and have implications for evaluation of health interventions and policy as well as further research.
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