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Nutritional status of pre-school children from low income families

Denise O Shoeps1, Luiz Carlos de Abreu12, Vitor E Valenti234, Viviane G Nascimento1, Adriana G de Oliveira1, Paulo R Gallo1, Rubens Wajnsztejn2 and Claudio Leone1*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Saúde Materno-infantil, Faculdade de Saúde Pública, Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brasil

2 Departamento de Morfologia e Fisiologia, Faculdade de Medicina do ABC, Santo André, SP, Brasil

3 Departamento de Medicina, Disciplina de Cardiologia, Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP), São Paulo, SP, Brasil

4 Departamento de Patologia, Faculdade de Medicina, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brasil

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Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:43  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-43

Published: 8 May 2011



We evaluated growth and nutritional status of preschool children between 2 and 6 years old from low income families from 14 daycare centers.


Cross-sectional study with 1544 children from daycare centers of Santo Andre, Brazil. Body weight (W), height (H) and body mass index (BMI) were classified according to the 2000 National Center for Health Statistics (CDC/NCHS). Cutoff points for nutritional disorders: -2 z scores and 2.5 and 10 percentiles for malnutrition risk, 85 to 95 percentile for overweight and above BMI 95 percentile for obesity. Stepwise Forward Regression method was used including age, gender, birth weight, breastfeeding duration, age of mother at birth and period of time they attended the daycare center.


Children presented mean z scores of H, W and BMI above the median of the CDC/NCHS reference. Girls were taller and heavier than boys, while we observed similar BMI between both genders. The z scores tended to rise with age. A Pearson Coefficient of Correlation of 0.89 for W, 0.93 for H and 0.95 for BMI was documented indicating positive association of age with weight, height and BMI. The frequency of children below -2 z scores was lower than expected: 1.5% for W, 1.75% for H and 0% for BMI, which suggests that there were no malnourished children. The other extremity of the distribution evidenced prevalence of overweight and obesity of 16.8% and 10.8%, respectively.


Low income preschool children are in an advanced stage of nutritional transition with a high prevalence of overweight.