Background: Obesity has a growing global epidemic with several risk factors including lifestyle habits, physical activity, and prolonged screen time. This study aimed to compare the dietary habits and self-reported health behaviors in a nationally representative sample of Iranian children and adolescents.
Materials and Methods: This cross sectional nationwide study was conducted in the framework of the fourth survey of a national school-based surveillance program, entitled Childhood and Adolescence Surveillance and Prevention of Adult Non‑communicable disease (CASPIAN-IV) Study. Participants were 14,880 students aged 6-18 years from 30 provinces in Iran. The World Health Organization- Global Student Health Survey questionnaire was utilized to assess their relationship with peers, body image, dietary, life-style and smoking habits, physical activity, and violence behaviors. Apart from the questionnaire, additional information on dietary habits was obtained as well. The Chi-square test and the student t-test were used to compare the groups.
Results: Boys had higher proportions of obesity (P<0.05). The prevalence of overweight and obesity decreased with age. Intake of refined bread (NS), non-hydrogenated oils (P<0.001), and low fat dairies (P<0.05) predominated in all three BMI categories. Meal skipping was less prevalent compared to planned meals, but there was an increasing trend according to BMI. All three BMI categories, were watching TV more than 2 hours per day (P<0.05). Depression and fighting were more prevalent in overweight and obese individuals, respectively.
Conclusion: Unhealthy food intake and dietary habits were prevalent in all BMI categories, while poor health related behaviors were more seen in children with higher weight.