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K Scott, Department of Family and Community Medicine, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA.


The purpose of this project was to study the changes in BMI of refugee children resettled in Philadelphia, United States. Obesity is a leading public health concern in the United States, resulting in higher mortality and morbidity. In children and adolescents, obesity results in 50-60% increase in risk of asthma as well as an increase in various other health problems. An obese 4 year old child has a 20% chance and an obese teenager has 80% chances of being obese as an adult. Studies suggest differences in prevalence of obesity and related illnesses based on race and ethnicity. However, little has been published on the epidemiology of obesity in refugees, particularly in children. For this study, we followed the refugee children (N=164; Males = 92, Females = 72) resettled in Philadelphia under the care of Jefferson Family Medicine Associate (JFMA) in order to track the changes in growth Body Mass Index (BMI) percentiles from January 2008 through October 2014. There was a significant increase in the average BMI percentiles of refugee children (M = 12.99, SD = 33.95), t(164) = 4.90, p < 0.001. However, there were no significant differences in BMI percentiles by countries of origin, age groups gender and pre-existing morbidities. Studying the deviation from normal growth patterns and possible contributing factors in a larger sample will help in developing interventional strategies to control the growth deficits – obesity and failure to thrive - and will eventually result in reduced morbidity, lowered healthcare utilization and overall costs as well as a potentially improved long-term function.

Presentation: 18 minutes