Background: We investigated the relationship between Body Mass Index (BMI) and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) indicated by baseline health status in elementary school children. Methods: Data were obtained via parents whose children enrolled in an elementary school, kindergarten to fourth grade, in southern Mississippi in spring 2004. Parents completed the SF-10 for Children, a brief 10-item questionnaire designed to measure children's HRQOL on a voluntary basis. Results: A total of 279 parents completed the questionnaires for their children. On average, physical and psychosocial summary scores, major indicators for HRQOL, were significantly higher among the elementary school children in our study relative to those from U.S. children overall (p < 0.0001 and p = 0.0007, respectively). Males tended to have better physical functioning than their female classmates, whereas females had better psychosocial health. Overall, except for third graders, the physical summary scores increased as grade level increased. The means for psychosocial score fluctuated without a clear pattern over the five grade levels. High level of BMI was significantly associated with children's physical summary scores below 50, a norm used for U.S. children (p = 0.003). Gender and grade were not significant predictors of children's physical and psychosocial scores. Discussion: This study can be used as baseline information to track changes over time, in BMI and health status among the elementary school children. In addition, this study can be used to investigate relationships between BMI, health status, intellectual ability, and performance in school. Conclusion: The findings suggest that programs designed to encourage children to lose weight in a healthy manner, thus reducing their BMI, could improve the physical and psychosocial health, and subsequently increase HRQOL.
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Date of publication
Zhang, Lei; Fos, Peter J.; Johnson, William D.; Kamali, Vafa; Cox, Reagan G.; Zuniga, Miguel A.; and Kittle, Theresa, "Body mass index and health related quality of life in elementary school children: A pilot study" (2008). Nursing Faculty Publications and Presentations. Paper 37.