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Overweight and obesity have increased to epidemic proportions among adolescents and are associated with chronic non-communicable diseases and excess mortality in adulthood. The association of overweight/obesity with poor dietary habits has not been studied in adolescents in middle-income developing countries. The present study aimed to estimate the prevalence of overweight, obesity and high waist circumference (WC) in 15–19-year-old Jamaican adolescents and to investigate the association with fast-food and sweetened beverage consumption.
The study enrolled 1317 (598 male, 719 female) adolescents aged 15–19 years using multistage, nationally representative sampling. Age-specific prevalence calculation used internal Z-score lines connecting with the WHO adult cut-off points. Logistic regression was used to examine the association of overweight or high WC with fast-food and sweetened beverage consumption, adjusting for potential confounders.
The overall prevalence of overweight, obesity and high WC was approximately 15 %, 6 % and 10 %, respectively. Prevalence estimated using internal Z-scores was similar to that using the International Obesity Taskforce cut-off points. Obesity (8·0 % in females, 3·3 % in males) and high WC (16·2 % in females, 1·7 % in males) were significantly more prevalent in females when using internal Z-score cut-offs. High WC was associated with the absence of fruit consumption (P = 0·043) and overweight with high sweetened beverage consumption (P = 0·018).
Overweight occurs frequently among Jamaican 15–19-year-olds and is associated with increased consumption of sweetened beverages. High WC is more prevalent among females and is related to low consumption of fruits and vegetables. Measures to reduce the consumption of sweetened beverages and increase fruit intake may reduce the prevalence of excess body fat among adolescents.
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