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Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:E78.

Weight status of American Indian and white elementary school students living in the same rural environment, Oklahoma, 2005-2009.

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University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA.



Studies have assessed rates of childhood obesity in diverse populations, but few have been able to compare the weight status of American Indian and white children living in the same community and attending the same schools. The objective of this study was to measure and compare the weight status of American Indian and white elementary school students (kindergarten through 5th grade) from 2005 through 2009 in an Oklahoma school district.


We assessed height, weight, age, and sex to calculate body mass index, body mass percentile, and categorical weight status of students, based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2000 Growth Charts. We used binomial regression to generate risk ratios (RRs) to compare student weight status by race, sex, and age.


An average of 753 students was measured in each year; mean age was 8.3 years. From 2005 through 2009, 45.4% of American Indian students and 65.1% of white students were healthy weight or underweight. Greater proportions of American Indian children were very obese (weighted average RR, 2.0); obese (weighted average RR, 1.6), or overweight (weighted average RR, 1.8) compared with white children. The overall prevalence of excess weight changed little during the study period.


American Indian children had a greater risk of being overweight, obese, or very obese than white children from the same rural environment.

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