Determinants of overweight and obesity among children between 5 to 11 years in Ecuador: A secondary analysis from the National Health Survey 2018

Betzabé Tello, José Ocaña, Paúl García-Zambrano, Betsabé Enríque-Moreira, Iván Dueñas-Espín

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Background During the 1990s, global eating habits changed, affecting poorer and middle-income nations, as well as richer countries. This shift, known as the "obesity transition,"led to more people becoming overweight or obese worldwide. In Ecuador, this change is happening, and now, one in three children is affected by overweight or obesity (OW/OB). This study explores the links between social, economic, and demographic factors and childhood obesity in Ecuador, seeking to provide insights for shaping future health policies in response to this intricate shift. Methods A cross-sectional study using 2018 National Health and Nutrition Survey data from Ecuador. Weighted percentages were computed, and odds ratios for OW/OB unadjusted and adjusted for each category of explanatory variables were estimated using multilevel multivariate logistic regression models. Results Among 10,807 Ecuadorian school children aged 5 to 11, the prevalence of OW/OB was 36.0%. Males exhibited 1.26 times higher odds than females (95% CI: 1.20 to 1.33), and each additional year of age increased the odds by 1.10 times (95% CI: 1.09 to 1.10). Economic quintiles indicated increased odds (1.17 to 1.39) from the 2nd to 5th quintile (the richest) compared with the first quintile (the poorest). Larger household size slightly reduced odds of OW/OB (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 0.93, 95% CI: 0.91 to 0.95), while regular physical activity decreased odds ([aOR] = 0.79, 95% CI: 0.75 to 0.82). The consumption ofschool-provided meals showed a non-significant reduction (aOR: 0.93, 95% CI: 0.82 to 1.06). Children from families recognizing and using processed food labels had a higher likelihood of being overweight or obese (aOR = 1.14, 95% CI: 1.02 to 1.26). Conclusion Age, male gender, and higher economic quintile increase OW/OB in Ecuadorian school children. Larger households and physical activity slightly decrease risks. Ecuador needs policies for healthy schools and homes, focusing on health, protection, and good eating habits.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0296538
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4 April
StatePublished - Apr 2024

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© 2024 Tello et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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