Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Waist circumference percentiles for Kuwaiti children and adolescents

Robert T Jacksona1 c1, Nawal Al Hamada2, Prassana Prakasha2 and Mona Al Somaiea2

a1 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Maryland, 0019 Skinner Hall, College Park, MD 20742, USA

a2 Food and Nutrition Administration, Ministry of Health, Al Shuwaikh, State of Kuwait


Objective Abdominal obesity is a major risk factor for chronic diseases. Yet there are no waist circumference (WC) cut-offs for children in the Arabian Gulf. We developed smoothed WC percentiles for 5–19-year-old Kuwaiti children and adolescents, which could be used in clinical and public health practice. We also examined the percentages of children who had WC ≥ 90th percentile, a value commonly associated with an elevated risk of CVD.

Design This is a cross-sectional study that was conducted by the Kuwait National Nutrition Surveillance System.

Setting Data were collected from representative primary-, intermediate- and secondary-school children as part of the yearly nutrition and health monitoring. Least mean square regression was used to develop smoothed WC curves.

Subjects A total of 9593 healthy 5·0–18·9-year-old children of both sexes were studied from all areas of Kuwait. Age, gender, residency, education level, weight, height and WC were collected for all participants.

Results We developed the first smoothed WC curves for Kuwaiti children. Male children had higher WC than female children. WC increased with age in both genders, but larger percentages of male children had WC ≥ 90th percentile. Male children aged >10 years have higher WC percentiles than do female children at the 50th, 75th, 90th and 97th percentiles.

Conclusions Male children (especially those aged >10 years) are at higher risk than female children. Few health-care professionals routinely measure WC. WC measurement should be promoted as an important tool in paediatric primary care practice. The use of these age- and gender-specific percentiles can impact public health recommendations for Kuwaiti and other Arab children from the Gulf.

(Received September 27 2009)

(Accepted August 10 2010)

(Online publication October 05 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email