BMC pediatrics 2017 04 2817(1) 115 doi 10.1186/s12887-017-0865-1
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health issues of the twenty-first century affecting even low- and middle-income countries. Overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood. Due to the paucity of data on local practices, our study aimed to assess the knowledge and practices of physicians from the Middle East and North Africa region with respect to early-onset obesity.
A specific questionnaire investigating the perception and knowledge on early-onset obesity was circulated to healthcare providers (general physicians, pediatricians, pediatric gastroenterologist, neonatologists) practicing in 17 Middle East and North African countries.
A total of 999/1051 completed forms (95% response) were evaluated. Of all respondents, 28.9% did not consistently use growth charts to monitor growth during every visit and only 25.2% and 46.6% of respondents were aware of the correct cut-off criterion for overweight and obesity, respectively. Of those surveyed, 22.3, 14.0, 36.1, 48.2, and 49.1% of respondents did not consider hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, fatty liver disease, and decreased life span, respectively, to be a long-term complication of early childhood obesity. Furthermore, only 0.7% of respondents correctly answered all survey questions pertaining to knowledge of early childhood overweight and obesity.
The survey highlights the low use of growth charts in the evaluation of early childhood growth in Middle East and North Africa region, and demonstrated poor knowledge of healthcare providers on the short- and long-term complications of early-onset obesity. This suggests a need for both continued professional education and development, and implementation of guidelines for the prevention and management of early childhood overweight and obesity.