The sociodemographic correlates of nutritional status of school adolescents in Jiangsu Province, China

Zumin Shi, Nanna Lien, Bernadette Nirmal Kumar, Ingvild Dalen, Gerd Holmboe-Ottesen

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Purpose: The objective of this article was to describe the relationship between sociodemographic factors and nutritional status (body mass index [BMI], height for age, and anemia) in adolescents. Methods: In 2002, a cross-sectional study comprising 824 students aged 12 to 14 years from 8 schools in 2 prefectures in Jiangsu province of China had their height, weight, and hemoglobin level measured. Self-administered questionnaires were used to collect sociodemographic information. Results: The prevalence of underweight was low in the overall sample (5.2%). The prevalence of stunting also was low (2.9%), and the differences between residential areas and sociodemographic groups were small. The percentage of overweight/obesity was higher among boys (17.9%) than girls (8.9%). Male students having fathers with a high educational level had the highest percentage of overweight and obesity (27.8%). Household socioeconomic status (SES) was associated positively with BMI. Family size, gender, and the father's level of education also were related to BMI. The percentage of anemia was somewhat higher among girls (23.4%) than boys (17.2%). Anemia coexisted with underweight. No urban/rural or SES differences in the percentage of students with anemia were observed in the sample, but differences between regions and schools were very significant. Conclusions: Undernutrition was not a problem in the research area. Nutritional status was associated with SES and region. Overnutrition and anemia in adolescents are important nutritional problems in Jiangsu, China. Intervention programs are needed to address these problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)313-322
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Adolescent Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished or Issued - Oct 2005


  • Adolescents
  • China
  • Nutritional status
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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