This chapter includes background information and reviews of relevant research. Research has pointed out the difference between intake of nutrient density at home and away from home and the increased consumption of snacks among young adults. Studies of eating habits and snack consumption have a common approach, and that is, through the use of a questionnaire. How is obesity defined? The Body Mass Index or BMI is a well known measure for gauging obesity and being overweight. BMI is computed by dividing the weight in kilograms by the square of the height, in meters.
The Body Mass Index is easy to measure and is not persistent (Cole et. al, 2000). Obesity is termed as body fat build up in excessive amounts. An individual is said to be obese if his total body weight is more than 25 percent fat for boys and more than 32 percent fat for girls (Lohman, 1987). Childhood obesity is defined as a weight-for-height in excess of 120 percent of the ideal weight for the child’s age. Skinfold measures are exact determinants of fatness rather than measuring weight-for height (Dietz, 1983; Lohman, 1987).
The triceps alone, triceps and subscapular, triceps and calf, and calf alone have been used with children and adolescents for measuring obesity. When the triceps and calf are used in measuring obesity, a sum of 10-25mm skinfolds considered normal for boys and 16-30mm skinfold is optimal for girls (Lohman, 1987). With the recent studies done, it has been demonstrated that there are significant variations in body fatness among children and adolescents (defined as obesity through skinfold thickness).
As obesity is correlated with skinfold increase, these studies also showed the relationship between percent body fat and risk for elevated blood pressure, serum total cholesterol, and serum lipoprotein ratios among children and adolescents whose age ranges from 5 to 18 years. Equations were developed particularly for children using the sum of subscapular (S) and triceps (T) skinfolds for percent fat estimation. The body fatness standards among children and adolescents are important indicators of cardiovascular diseases risk factors.
The probable applications of these obesity standards consist of epidemiologic surveys, pediatric health screenings, and youth fitness tests for obesity prevention (Lynds et. al, 1980). In relation with nutrition, the development of body fatness and leanness is studied in an ongoing prospective nutrition and growth scheme. Individual skinfold thicknesses, relative weights, weight gains, activity levels, and caloric intakes were examined among 6 months and 9 years old.
Changes in body fatness in this group of children proved that obese infants usually do not become an obese child; obese babies have a high potential of becoming obese children but it occurs rarely. Weight gain during the infancy stage is also a weak indicator of child obesity. Changes from obese to non-obese or lean are not linearly associated. From evidence, it has been verified that actual obesity starts at 6 – 9 years of age while as early as 2 years old, obesity can be predicted for girls and 3 years for boys (Shapiro et. al, 1984) .
The cost of obesity to society is tremendously increasing, having 1% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of the WHO European Region. Also, adult obesity reaches 6% of direct health costs in the European Region. Indirect costs caused by premature loss of life, productivity and related income – are doubled (www. euro. who. int, 2006). People from the Asia-Pacific region are facing increasing health risks associated with obesity at lower Body Mass Index (BMI). Based on risk factors and morbidities, WHO (Western Pacific Region) proposes different BMI ranges for the Asia-Pacific region. (Tang, 2003)