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High Maternal Body Mass Index Is Associated with an Early-Onset of Overweight/Obesity in Pre-School-Aged Children in Malawi. A Multilevel Analysis of the 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey
Authors: Ntenda PAM, Mhone TG, and Nkoka O
Source: Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, fmy028; DOI: 10.1093/tropej/fmy028
Topic(s): Body Mass Index (BMI)
Child health
Maternal health
Nutrition
Obesity
Country: Africa
  Malawi
Published: MAY 2018
Abstract: Background: Overweight/obesity in young children is one of the most serious public health issues globally. We examined whether individual- and community-level maternal nutritional status is associated with an early onset of overweight/obesity in pre-school-aged children in Malawi. Design: Data were obtained from the 2015-16 Malawi Demographic and Health Survey (MDHS). The maternal nutritional status as body mass index and childhood overweight/obesity status was assessed by using the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations. To examine whether the maternal nutritional status is associated with overweight/obesity in pre-school-aged children, two-level multilevel logistic regression models were constructed on 4023 children of age less than five years dwelling in 850 different communities. Results: The multilevel regression analysis showed that children born to overweight/obese mothers had increased odds of being overweight/obese [adjusted odds ratio (aOR)?=?3.11; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13-8.54]. At the community level, children born to mothers from the middle (aOR: 1.68; 95% CI: 1.02-2.78) and high (aOR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.00-2.90) percentage of overweight/obese women had increased odds of being overweight/obese. In addition, there were significant variations in the odds of childhood overweight/obesity in the communities. Conclusions: Strategies aimed at reducing childhood overweight/obesity in Malawi should address not only women and their children but also their communities. Appropriate choices of nutrition, diet and physical activity patterns should be emphasized upon in overweight/obese women of childbearing age throughout pregnancy and beyond.