The prevalence and potential determinants of obesity among school children and adolescents in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

A. Al Junaibi, A. Abdulle, S. Sabri, M. Hag-Ali, N. Nagelkerke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives:To estimate the prevalence and determinants of obesity in childhood and adolescence and their association with blood pressure (BP) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE).Design:A cross-sectional population- representative study.Subjects:A total of 1541 students (grades 1-12; aged 6-19 years) were randomly selected from 246 schools (50% male). Anthropometric and demographic variables were measured, and CDC criteria were used to classify children's weights.Results:A total of 1440 (93%) students provided complete results. Crude prevalences were: 7.6% underweight, 14.7% overweight and 18.9% obesity. Further analyses were restricted to UAE nationals (n=1035), of whom these figures were: 8.3% underweight (females 6.5%, males 10.1%; P=0.06), 14.2% overweight (females 16.7%, males 11.6%; P<0.01), 19.8% obesity (females 18.1%, males 21.4%; P=0.09). Obesity significantly (P<0.001) increased with age. The majority (61.3%) of students had body mass index (BMI) percentiles above the 50th CDC percentile. Stepwise linear regression of BMI percentile on age, sex, dairy consumption, exercise and family income showed a significant (P<0.01) positive association with age and lack of dairy consumption, but not exercise and income. BP significantly (P<0.01) increased with BMI percentile.Conclusions:The prevalence of childhood obesity is high across the age spectrum in the UAE. Older age, male sex, lack of dairy intake and higher parental BMI, are independent determinants of childhood obesity in this population. Higher BMI percentile is associated with a higher BP. Prevention strategies should focus on younger children, particularly children of obese parents. Longitudinal studies are needed to investigate trends and the impact of childhood obesity on the risk of non-communicable diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-74
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


  • United Arab Emirates
  • childhood
  • prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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