Original Research

Body mass index of 16-year olds in urban Maseru, Lesotho

Violet L. van den Berg, Lisemelo Seheri, Jacques Raubenheimer
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 6, No 1 | a618 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v6i1.618 | © 2014 Violet L. van den Berg, Lisemelo Seheri, Jacques Raubenheimer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 November 2013 | Published: 17 December 2014

About the author(s)

Violet L. van den Berg, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of the Free State, South Africa
Lisemelo Seheri, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of the Free State, South Africa
Jacques Raubenheimer, Department of Biostatistics, University of the Free State, South Africa


Background: Overweight and/or obesity amongst children and adolescents is a global epidemic with health consequences that track into adulthood. No data are currently available regarding overweight/obesity amongst adolescents in Lesotho.

Aim and setting: To assess the prevalence of overweight and/or obesity and the associated risk factors amongst 16-year olds in urban Maseru, Lesotho.

Method: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted on a systematic sample of 16-year olds ingrade four (N = 221; 56.6% girls) from randomly-selected schools in urban Maseru. Diet histories and data on lifestyle, physical activity and knowledge, attitudes and/or perceptions and practices regarding nutrition were obtained during structured interviews and body mass index (BMI) was determined.

Results: Amongst these 16-year olds, 27.2% girls and 8.3% boys were overweight and/or obese based on World Health Organization cut-offs for BMI; 39.8% were insufficiently active or inactive;6.4% used alcohol regularly; and 11.7% used tobacco. Whilst 28.1% reported no television watching/electronic gaming/computer usage (combined screen time) outside school, 23.6% reported ≥ 4 hours of combined screen time outside school. Most (91.4%) consumed < 3 servings of vegetables/day; 86.4% consumed < 2 servings of fruits/day; and 95.5% consumed < 2 servings of dairy/day. The majority consumed maize porridge (56.1%), bread (63.8%) and margarine/oil/fat (82.3%) daily and added sugar to their food (74.2%). Fruits, vegetables, dairy, meat, pulses and traditional foods were only consumed weekly or less often. Most bought from tuck shops (18.6% daily; 54.3% weekly). Various gaps in knowledge, perceptions and practices were identified that may benefit from educational intervention.

Conclusions: The current study identifies westernised dietary and lifestyle changes, along with overweight and/or obesity, amongst 16-year old adolescents in Lesotho.


Lesotho; adolescents; overweight/obesity; risk factors; nutrition transition 


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Crossref Citations

1. Barriers and Enablers That Influence Overweight/Obesity/Obesogenic Behavior in Adolescents From Lower-Middle Income Countries: A Systematic Review
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