The recent publication on childhood obesity on a rural island in Greece is very interesting1. Athanasopoulos et al noted a high prevalence of this problem, which was mentioned as an important global public health consideration1.
The problem of childhood obesity is relatively recent. However, it is not highly prevalent in all areas of the world, and may appear to be limited to the context of developed countries. A focus on the opposite problem, undernutrition, shows this to be prevalent in developing countries. A previous report in your journal from a rural area at the Cambodian-Thai border, gave the prevalence of undernutrition as approximately 63%2.
However, the problem of childhood obesity may still be present in developing countries, especially among the children of economically advantaged families2,3. Thus, the factors that affect the nutritional status of rural children can be complex and should be assessed specifically according to individual settings and situations3.
Somsri Wiwanitkit BEd and Viroj Wiwanitkit MD
Wiwanitkit House, Bangkok Thailand
1. Athanasopoulos DT, Garopoulou AI, Dragoumanos VP. Childhood obesity and associated factors in a rural Greek island. Rural and Remote Health 11: 1641. (Online) 2011. Available: www.rrh.org.au (Accessed 12 January 2012).
2. Wiwanitkit V, Sodsri P. Underweight schoolchildren in a rural school near the Thai-Cambodian border. Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health 2003; 34: 458-461.