Socioeconomic and sex differences in adolescents’ dietary intake, anthropometry and physical activity in Cameroon, Africa

by Dapi N., Léonie, PhD

Abstract (Summary)
Background: People in Cameroon are experiencing a dietary transition characterized by changing from traditional food habits to increased intake of highly processed sweet and fatty food. The rapid change in food pattern combined with an increased sedentary lifestyle has resulted in a rather high prevalence of obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. Nutritional intake is important during adolescence for growth spurt, health, cognitive development and performance in school.Objective: The aim of this thesis was to assess dietary intake, anthropometry and physical activity of adolescents according to sex and socioeconomic status (SES) and to investigate food perceptions of adolescents living in urban and rural areas of Cameroon.Methods: Girls and boys, 12-16 years of age, were randomly selected from schools in urban and rural areas. Food frequency questionnaire, 24-hour dietary and physical activity recalls, anthropometric measurements, qualitative interviews and a background questionnaire were used for data collection. Results: The proportion of overweight was three times higher in girls (14%) compared to boys (4%). Stunting and underweight were more common among boys (15% and 6%) than girls (5% and 1%). The prevalence of stunting was two times higher among the urban adolescents with low SES (12%) compared to those with high SES (5%). The rural adolescents had the highest proportion of stunting but more muscle that the urban adolescents. The rural adolescents ate in order to live and to maintain health. Urban adolescents with low SES ate in order to maintain health, while those with high SES ate for pleasure. More than 30% of the adolescents skipped breakfast in the urban area. Urban adolescents with high SES and girls reported a more frequent consumption of in-between meals and most food groups compared to the rural adolescents, boys and those with low SES. Over 55% of the adolescents had a protein intake below 10% of the energy (E%). Twenty-six percent of the adolescents had fat intake below 25 E%, and 25% had fat intake above 35 E%. A large proportion of the adolescents had an intake of micronutrients below the estimated average recommendation. Boys and the adolescents with low SES reported a higher energy expenditure and physical activity level than girls and the adolescents with high SES, respectively. Both under- and over-reporting of energy intake were common among the adolescents.Conclusions: The present study showed that nutrient inadequacy, stunting, underweight, as well as overweight and obesity were common among the adolescents in Cameroon. Therefore an intervention program targeting both under- and overnutrition among school adolescents is needed. Sex and socioeconomic differences also need to be considered.
Bibliographical Information:


School:Umeå universitet

School Location:Sweden

Source Type:Doctoral Dissertation

Keywords:MEDICINE; Social medicine; Public health medicine research areas; Public health science; Adolescents; socioeconomic; energy intake; nutrient intake; physical activity; under-overweight; Cameroon; Nutrition; näringslära


Date of Publication:01/01/2010

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