OBJECTIVES: This study estimated the prevalences of overweight and obesity in American Indian children and adolescents attending schools in the Aberdeen area Indian Health Service (including SD, ND, IA, NE).METHODS: Stature and weight were measured for 12 559 children aged 5–17 y and prevalences of overweight and obesity were determined relative to gender and age-specific national reference data for the body mass index (BMI). Those with BMI>85th percentile were considered overweight and those with BMI>95th percentile were considered obese.RESULTS: Age-adjusted prevalences of overweight were 39.1% and 38.0% for males and females, respectively, and corresponding age-adjusted prevalences for obesity were 22.0% and 18.0%, respectively. There were few regular changes in prevalences of overweight across ages for either gender, or for obesity in females. Prevalences of obesity in males increased systematically with age and exceed prevalences in females at many ages.CONCLUSIONS: Overweight and obesity based on elevated BMI are highly prevalent among American Indian youth. Even at the youngest school ages, overweight is more than twice as likely as national patterns and obesity is more than three times as prevalent. Primary prevention must begin very early among these children.
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- American Indian