Childhood and adolescent obesity is an international public health problem leading to an increased risk of adulthood obesity, mortality and morbidity. Its prevalence is increasing in low-income populations, and we hypothesized it may be associated with vitamin D deficiency. Low vitamin D status is a worldwide public health issue including Ethiopia; however, no one has examined overweight/obesity in Ethiopian schoolchildren with regard to vitamin D status.
Analyses of a data set from a school-based cross-sectional study in Adama Town (n=89) and in Rural Adama woreda (n=85) carried out to determine vitamin D deficiency and its association with overweight and/or obesity. Data on a total of 174 schoolchildren aged 11-18 y was used for these analyses.
The overall prevalence of overweight and/or obesity was 10.3%, with 8.5% overweight and 2.3% obese; the prevalence of underweight was 19%. On multivariable logistic regression model, vitamin D deficiency, being in the higher age group, female sex and urban residence of students, their mothers’ occupation of being employed and their households’ high and middle socioeconomic status were significant independent predictors of overweight and/or obesity.
We concluded that vitamin D deficiency is a significant independent predictor of overweight and/or obesity in a sample of schoolchildren from rural and urban settings in Ethiopia. The results imply the need for behaviour change communications on the importance of exposure to sunlight to produce adequate vitamin D to curb this emerging problem of overweight/obesity following economic growth and globalization in Ethiopia