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Is obesity associated with decreased health-related quality of life in school-age children?—Results from a survey in Vietnam

Hanoi University of Public health, 1A Duc Thang street, North Tu Liem District, Hanoi, Vietnam

Background: Overweight and obesity have short-term and long-term effects on children’s physical and mental health. These conditions currently have a tendency to increase among Vietnamese school children. Aims: This study aimed to assess the quality of life among 8–10 year-old children in Vietnam. Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted with a sample of 264 children aged 8–10 years (including 88 obese children and 176 normal-weight ones) at two primary schools in Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2018 and their mothers or fathers participated in this study. The Vietnamese version of the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) 4.0 generic score scales were used to collect information from children and their parents about the children’s quality-of-life. Mean and standard deviation of PedsQL scores were calculated. Independent t-test was used to compare mean scores between normal-weight and obese children. Results: Both child self reports and parent-proxy reports revealed that obese children had significantly lower scores for the total scales compared to normal weight children (80.7 versus 84.0; p < 0.05 for proxy reports and 77.6 vs 84.6; p < 0.001 for self reports). Total scale and subscale scores reported by parents were lower compared to those reported by children. Besides, 79% of normal weight children reported having PedsQL total scores in the highest quartile (≥75%), compared to 56.8 % of obese children (p = 0.01). Similarly, these proportions for parent-proxy reports were 79.5% and 65.9%, respectively (p < 0.05). Emotional scores were both found the lowest among the four subscales (71.6 for child self reports and 73.1 for parent-proxy reports). Recommendations: Interventions aimed to improve quality of life of overweight and obese children in Vietnam should not focus only on diet adjustment and physical exercise but need to address all dimensions of health-related quality of life, especially emotional, social and school functioning.
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