Cadernos de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1678-4464
AMIGO, Hugo. Obesity in Latin American children: situation, diagnostic criteria and challenges. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 2003, vol.19, suppl.1, pp. S163-S170. ISSN 1678-4464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X2003000700017.
Obesity has emerged as an alarming public health problem, having increased rapidly in both adults and children. Considering 12 countries with reported levels of overweight and obesity, one third have a 20% prevalence of one or both conditions. In 17 countries reporting data on obesity, the mean rate was 4.6%; four countries reported rates over 6%, while three reported less than 2%. The majority of these countries showed increases of 70% in overweight and 60% in obesity during the last decade. Only two countries reported decreasing prevalence rates. Countries may be classified in four groups: (1) low or even downward prevalence of overweight and obesity; (2) underweight reported simultaneously with an increase in obesity; (3) a large territory and population with differences in the prevalence of overweight and obesity between regions and socioeconomic groups; and (4) little underweight and high prevalence of obesity. In conclusion, there is no doubt about the increasing trend in overweight and obesity among Latin American children. However, since there is no consensus as to diagnostic criteria for overweight and obesity, the real prevalence is not known.
Keywords : Obesity; Anthropometry; Nutritional Status.