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Kaylee McQueen Jones

Biology 1615 - Tues 1:00pm

Professor Evelyn Galvez
Under and Over Nutrition among School-Going Black Teenagers in South Africa

As we know, being overweight or underweight can cause some significant health risks.
Researchers from the United States have taken it upon themselves to broaden their scope of
study and learn more about the South African population in regards to the problem of obesity as
well as undernutrition. These researchers have specifically focused their study toward teens
because the teenage age group is known for a time of risk taking behaviors, such as poor eating
habits. In doing this research, the scientists have gained a greater knowledge of how and where
to implement nutritional guidelines and can hopefully help our human race fight the epidemic of
obesity and malnutrition.
Materials and Methods
The researchers who went to South Africa and conducted this study used cross-sectional
surveys, sampling and comparisons to teens from other parts of the world, including teens of
many different ethnic backgrounds. They also gained measurements which included height and
weight of each participant in the study. In order to do this, they used electronic scales for weight
and stadiometers for height. In order to separate participants into groups of underweight or
overweight the scientists used the Body Mass Index Scale, also known as the BMI Scale.

According to the researchers, they found that the prevalence of under nutrition in these
teenagers showed significant sex differences, with boys having a significantly higher prevalence
of underweight than girls. When considering over nutrition at each age, girls had a significantly
higher prevalence of overweight than boys. But, when considering obesity, no statistically
significant differences across gender and age groups were found. However, there is a suggestion
that for girls, the older teenagers (15 years and above) may be more obese than younger
When dealing with underweight and malnourished teens, we run into many problems
with the most prevalent being stunted growth. As teens are growing and maturing, their bodies
need enough nutrition in order to function properly. On the flip side of this, teens can also
experience over eating which can lead to obesity, high blood pressure and many other major
health problems down the road as well.
The scientists who set out to study this population of teenage South Africans got some
expected results but also had some surprises along the way. One of these surprises being the fact
that income didnt play as big of a role in determining under or over-nutrition as they had
previously thought. This was demonstrated in a comparison between South Africa and Tanzanian
teens. Teen girls in Tanzania were actually not at all considered overweight when compared to
teen boys their same age, which was opposite of the results found in South Africa although each
of these countries are considered to be low income.

In order to gain a better knowledge of what exact implications regarding health and
nutrition need to be put into place, the scientists will need to conduct further research. Although,
this study has given them a much better understanding of the nutritional excess as well as the
deficits in South Africa. This results in a more worldly approach to emphasize the benefits of
good nutrition and will benefit society as a whole in the future.

Jinabhai, C. C., Taylor, M., Reddy, P., Monyeki, D., Kamabaran, N., Omardien, R., & Sullivan,
K. R. (2007, August). Sex Differences in Under and Over Nutrition among School-Going Black
Teenagers in South Africa: An Uneven Nutrition Trajectory. Tropical Medicine and International
Health, 12(8), 944-952. doi:10.1 I t llj.t 365-Jt56.2007.01861-x