There is little information about height and weight status of Palestinian adolescents. The objective of this paper was to assess the prevalence of stunting, underweight, and overweight/obesity among Palestinian school adolescents (13-15 years) and associated sociodemographic factors in 2 major governorates in the West Bank.
A Cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2005 comprising 1942 students in 65 schools in Ramallah and Hebron governorates. Data was collected through self-administered questionnaires from students and parents. Weights and heights were measured. Overweight and obesity were assessed using the 2000 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reference and the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria. Stunting and underweight were assessed using the 2000 CDC reference.
Overweight/obesity was more prevalent in Ramallah than in Hebron and affected more girls than boys. Using the 2000 CDC reference, the prevalence of overweight and obesity in Ramallah among boys was 9.6% and 8.2%, respectively versus 15.6% and 6.0% among girls (P<0.01). In Hebron, the corresponding figures were 8.5% and 4.9% for boys and 13.5% and 3.4% for girls (P<0.01). Using the IOTF criteria, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among boys in Ramallah was 13.3% and 5.2%, respectively versus 18.9% and 3.3% for girls. The prevalence of overweight and obesity among boys in Hebron was 10.9% and 2.2%, respectively versus 14.9% and 2.0% for girls. Overweight/obesity was associated with high standard of living (STL) among boys and with the onset of puberty among girls. More boys were underweight than girls, and the prevalence was higher in Hebron (12.9% and 6.0% in boys and girls, respectively (P<0.01)) than in Ramallah (9.7% and 3.1% in boys and girls, respectively (p<0.01)). The prevalence of stunting was similar in both governorates, and was higher among boys (9.2% and 9.4% in Ramallah and Hebron, respectively) than among girls (5.9% and 4.2% in Ramallah and Hebron, respectively). Stunting was negatively associated with father's education among boys and with urban residence, medium STL and onset of puberty among girls.
Under- and overnutrition co-exist among Palestinian adolescents, with differences between sexes. Region, residence, STL, and onset of puberty were associated factors.