Nutritional status correlated with sociodemographic and economic factors among preparatory school-aged children in the Gaza Strip

Abstract

Aim

This study was conducted to investigate anthropometric nutritional indicators that correlated with sociodemographic and economic factors among preparatory school-aged children (PSC) in the Gaza Strip.

Subjects and methods

The study subjects were chosen purposively from three different sociodemographic and economic areas in the Gaza Strip: the Jabalia refugee camp (JRC), Gaza City (GC), and Al-Garrara village (GV). They were selected randomly from the two largest preparatory schools (one for male and one for female pupils) per each area for a total of 680 PSC (350 boys and 330 girls) aged 12–14 years. A structural and self-administered questionnaire about sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors for each pupil in the sample was recorded. Logistic data were analyzed by the SPSS WIN program.

Results

The overall prevalence of overweight among the female and male pupils was 17.0 and 17.1% (p = 0.4), whereas obesity for both sexes was 5.45 and 7.42%, respectively (p = 0.001). Moreover, there were highly significant statistical relationships between age and overweight (p = 0.001) or obesity (p = 0.002). The highest percentages of overweight and obesity among the boys were recorded in GC (24.1 vs 9.48%). On the other hand, obesity was very significantly related to the mother’s education level among the female pupils in JRC (p = 0.007). Moreover, a highly significant relationship was observed between overweight and income (p = 0.01) among the boys in the same camp. There was also a highly significant relationship between obesity and the father’s job among the boys in GV (p = 0.005). The overall prevalence of thinness for the boys was higher than the girls (7.42 vs 5.75%, p = 0.001). The difference in thinness values between the two sexes according to age was not statistically significant (p = 0.3). The highest percentage (11.8%) of thinness was recorded among the girls in GC. There were no significant relationships between thinness and socioeconomic factors among PSC in the Gaza Strip (p > 0.05). Thinness and socioeconomic relationships in the three different socioeconomic areas among PSC were not observed. The overall prevalence of stunting among the boys was higher than among the girls (8.29 vs 6.36%, p = 0.001). The highest percentage (10.8%) of stunting among the boys was recorded in GV. It was also found that stunting was significantly related to the father’s job (p = 0.02) among the boys in JRC. Similar to the thinness, significant relationships between stunting and socioeconomic factors among PSC in the Gaza Strip were not observed (p > 0.05). These nutritional indicators showed a very significant difference between the male and female pupils according to region of residence (p = 0.001). No statistical relations were observed between any of the indicators and the socioeconomic factors among the study samples in GC.

Conclusion

About 10% of adolescent pupils in the Gaza Strip suffer from malnutrition that is significantly associated with the region. Moreover, relationships between malnutrition and socioeconomic variables among the PSC were heterogeneous and require further investigations.

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Acknowledgement

Deep acknowledgements are addressed to the deanery of research of IUG due to continuous support of our studies.

Conflict of interest

The authors confirm that there are no relevant associations that might pose a conflict of interest.

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Correspondence to Baker M. Zabut.

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Kanao, B.J., Abu-Nada, O.S. & Zabut, B.M. Nutritional status correlated with sociodemographic and economic factors among preparatory school-aged children in the Gaza Strip. J Public Health 17, 113–119 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10389-008-0229-2

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Keywords

  • Anthropometric measures
  • Nutritional status
  • Preparatory school-aged children
  • Sociodemographic and economic factors