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Little is known regarding the nutritional burden in Chinese ethnic minority children. This study aimed to investigate the epidemiological characteristics of excess body weight and underweight for 26 ethnic groups.
Data on 80,821 participants aged 7–18 years across 26 minorities, with completed records from a large national cross-sectional survey, were obtained from Chinese National Survey on Students’ Constitution and Health (CNSSCH) in 2014. Excess body weight, underweight and their components were classified according to Chinese national BMI references.
The overall prevalence of excess body weight and underweight among ethnic groups were 12.0% and 14.5%, in which 4.4% and 4.1% of the participants were classified as obese and severe wasting, respectively. Compared with girls, boys showed a higher prevalence of underweight, severe wasting and obesity, but a lower prevalence of excess body weight (P < 0.05). Among 26 ethnic groups, Koreans had the highest prevalence of excess body weight (30.4%), while Bouyeis showed the highest prevalence of underweight (25.7%). The ethnic minority groups with high prevalence of excess body weight and underweight were more likely to show high burden of obesity and severe wasting, respectively. However, it is not the case for some groups, such as Miaos and Shuis.
A worrying dual burden of excess body weight and underweight was recognized in Chinese ethnic minority children. Since various characteristics were found among different minorities, the ethnic-specific effort is warranted to improve their nutritional status.