Public Health Nutrition

Social, economic, political and environmental determinants

Nutritional profile of schoolchildren from different socio-economic levels in Santiago, Chile

Yessica Liberonaa1, Oscar Castilloa1, Valerie Englera1, Luis Villarroela2 and Jaime Rozowskia1 c1

a1 Nutritional Intervention Unit, Department of Nutrition, Diabetes and Metabolism, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Edificio de Gastroenterología – 4° piso, Lira 40, Santiago, Chile

a2 Department of Public Health Faculty of Medicine, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile


Objective To assess the nutritional status, food intake and physical activity patterns in schoolchildren attending 5th and 6th grade in basic schools from different socio-economic levels in the metropolitan region of Santiago.

Design Cross-sectional study in children 5th and 6th grade of eighteen basic schools in the metropolitan region of Santiago.

Setting Boys and girls aged 9–12 years from basic schools were evaluated in terms of physical capacity. An anthropometric evaluation was also performed which included weight, height and triceps and subscapular skinfold thicknesses. Food intake was evaluated by a 24 h recall, socio-economic level by the ESOMAR method and physical activity by a questionnaire.

Subjects Boys and girls aged 9–12 years (n 1732).

Results The average prevalence of overweight and obesity was 40 %, with the highest prevalence in males and those from lower socio-economic level. A majority (64 %) of the children had a low level of physical activity. A higher intake of fat and protein and a higher intake of carbohydrate were found in the higher and lower socio-economic levels, respectively. Both males and females showed adequacy greater than 75 % in macronutrient intake except for fibre, with both groups showing a deficit in the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes, fish and milk products according to Chilean recommendations.

Conclusions A high prevalence of malnutrition by excess was observed in both sexes and a better eating and physical activity pattern was seen in children from higher socio-economic level.

(Received September 14 2009)

(Accepted April 22 2010)

(Online publication June 29 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email