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Ann Saudi Med. 2009 Jul-Aug;29(4):258-69.

Anthropometry and body composition of school children in Bahrain.

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Nutrition Section/Public Health Directorate-Ministry of Health, Kingdom of Bahrain, King Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia.



This study was conducted because of the lack of a comprehensive nationwide assessment of data on the anthropometric status and related health problems in Bahraini school children aged 6 to 18 years.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted on the anthropometric status of school children enrolled in the primary, intermediate and secondary government schools in all populated regions of Bahrain. The sample size included 2594 students (1326 girls and 1268 boys) representing 2.5% of the total student population. For sample selection, a multi-stage sampling design was chosen that combined multi-cluster and simple random sampling methods. Anthropometric measurements included height, weight, mid-arm circumference and skin fold thickness at two sites (triceps and subscapular). Anthropometric indices derived were body mass index (BMI) and arm muscle area. The WHO reference standards (2007) and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) II data were used for comparison.


Compared to WHO reference standards, the median height of Bahraini children and adolescents in the age range of 6 to 18 years was close to the 25th percentile or lower, while the median BMI during adolescent years was comparable in boys, but higher than WHO standards in girls, reaching the 75th percentile. The cutoff values of BMI for overweight/obesity status (85th and 95th percentile) were higher by 3-6 kg/m(2) compared to WHO standards. While skin fold thicknesses were also higher in Bahraini adolescents compared to their American counterparts (NHANES II), arm muscularity was substantially lower.


Current study findings for BMI as well as skin fold thicknesses suggest an increased trend toward adiposity among Bahraini adolescents, especially in girls, which puts this age group at a high risk of adult obesity and its consequences. A need for urgent intervention programs is emphasized.

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