Research Article

Prevalence of overweight and obesity in adolescent Tehrani students, 2000–2001: an epidemic health problem

B Mohammadpour-Ahranjania1 c1, A Rashidia1, M Karandisha2, MR Eshraghiana3 and N Kalantaria4

a1 Department of Nutrition Research, National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, PO Box 19395-4741, Tehran, Iran

a2 Department of Nutrition, School of Paramedical Sciences, Ahwaz University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Ahwaz, Iran

a3 Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Tehran, Iran

a4 Department of Community Nutrition, Faculty of Nutrition Sciences and Food Technology, Shaheed Beheshti University of Medical Sciences and Health Services, Tehran, Iran


Objective: Overweight has become a public health problem in most developing countries. Evidence suggests that adolescence is a critical period in determining adulthood obesity and its complications. The present study was carried out to assess the prevalence of overweight and obesity among secondary school students.

Design and setting: This descriptive study was conducted in Tehran city, 2000–2001. Body weight and height were measured and body mass index (BMI) values were calculated. Underweight, overweight and obesity were defined as <5th, ≥85th and ≥95th percentile, respectively, of age- and sex-specific BMI values from the National Center for Health Statistics/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2000).

Subjects: Using a multistage sampling method, 2321 students (1068 males and 1253 females) aged 11–16 years were assessed in Tehran, the capital city of Iran.

Results: The overall prevalences of overweight and obesity were 21.1 and 7.8%, respectively. The prevalence of overweight among girl students (i.e. 23.1%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 20.8–25.4) was significantly higher than that among boys (i.e. 18.8%; 95% CI 16.5–21.1, P = 0.01) even after adjustment for age (odds ratio 1.26, 95% CI 1.03–1.55, P = 0.02). No significant risk of obesity associated with age was found in girls or boys. In both sexes, median values of age-specific BMI in this study were statistically higher than corresponding values collected in Tehrani adolescents 10 years ago (P = 0.03). Similarly, a significant difference was seen between girl students in this study and the reference population (P = 0.03).

Conclusion: According to this study, overweight, especially in girls, should be considered an epidemic health problem among adolescent students in Tehran.

(Received April 28 2003)

(Accepted December 01 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email