Pediatric refugees in Rhode Island: increases in BMI percentile, overweight, and obesity following resettlement.

Document Type


Publication Date



Family Medicine

Journal Title

Rhode Island medical journal (2013)

MeSH Headings

Adolescent, Africa, Asia, Body Mass Index, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Male, Obesity, Overweight, Prevalence, Refugees, Retrospective Studies, Rhode Island


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate BMI change among pediatric refugees resettling in Providence, RI.

METHODS: Retrospective chart review of pediatric refugees from the initial evaluation to year 3 post-resettlement at Hasbro Children's Hospital. Primary outcome of interest was within person change in BMI percentile at each time point.

RESULTS: From 2007-2012, 181 children visited the clinic. Initial prevalence of overweight and obesity was 14.1% and 3.2% versus 22.8% and 12.6% at year 3. From visit 1 and years 1-3, there was a positive mean within person change in BMI percentile of 12.9% (95% CI 6.3-19.6%s), 16.6% (95% CI 11.2-21.9%), and 14.4% (95% CI 9.1-19.7%).

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of overweight and obesity increased from 17.3% at initial intake to 35.4% at 3 years post-resettlement to surpass that of American children (31.7-31.8% for 2007-2012). Refugee children have additional risk factors for obesity; multidisciplinary interventions must be designed to address nutrition at each visit.



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