Risk factors associated with abdominal obesity in suburban adolescents from a malaysian district

Wai Fong Chew, Sook Fan Yap, A. Malik Yasmin, Kong Bung Choo, Gary Kim Kuan Low, Nem Yun Boo

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14 Citations (Scopus)


INTRODUCTION We aimed to determine the risk factors associated with abdominal obesity (AO) in suburban adolescents. METHODS This cross-sectional study included adolescents aged 15–17 years from five randomly selected secondary schools in the Hulu Langat district of Selangor state, Malaysia. Waist circumference (WC) was measured at the midpoint between the lower margin of the last palpable rib and the top of the iliac crest. Information on sociodemographic data, dietary habits, physical activity levels and duration of sleep was obtained via interviewer-administered questionnaires. Participants’ habitual food intake was determined using a 73-item Food Frequency Questionnaire. RESULTS Among 832 participants, 56.0% were girls; 48.4% were Malay, 40.5% Chinese, 10.2% Indian and 0.8% of other ethnic groups. Median age and WC were 16 (interquartile range [IQR] 15–16) years and 67.9 (IQR 63.0–74.6) cm, respectively. Overall prevalence of AO (> 90th percentile on the WC chart) was 11.3%. A higher proportion (22.4%) of Indian adolescents were found to have AO compared with Malay and Chinese adolescents. Logistic regression analysis showed that female gender (adjusted odds ratio [OR] 7.064, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.087–23.913; p = 0.002), Indian ethnicity (adjusted OR 10.164, 95% CI 2.182–47.346; p = 0.003), irregular meals (adjusted OR 3.193, 95% CI 1.043–9.774; p = 0.042) and increasing body mass index (BMI) (adjusted OR 2.867, 95% CI 2.216–3.710; p < 0.001) were significantly associated with AO. CONCLUSION AO was common among Malaysian adolescents. Female gender, Indian ethnicity, irregular meals and increasing BMI were significant risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-111
Number of pages8
JournalSingapore Medical Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal obesity
  • Adolescents
  • Dietary habits
  • Waist circumference


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