Bayesian spatial modeling of childhood overweight and obesity prevalence in Costa Rica

Mario J. Gómez*, Luis A. Barboza, Paola Vásquez, Paula Moraga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Childhood overweight and obesity levels are rising and becoming a concern globally. In Costa Rica, the prevalence of these conditions has reached alarming values. Spatial analyses can identify risk factors and geographical patterns to develop tailored and effective public health actions in this context. Methods: A Bayesian spatial mixed model was built to understand the geographic patterns of childhood overweight and obesity prevalence in Costa Rica and their association with some socioeconomic factors. Data was obtained from the 2016 Weight and Size Census (6 - 12 years old children) and 2011 National Census. Results: Average years of schooling increase the levels of overweight and obesity until reaching an approximate value of 8 years, then they start to decrease. Moreover, for every 10-point increment in the percentage of homes with difficulties to cover their basic needs and in the percentage of population under 14 years old, there is a decrease of 7.7 and 14.0 points, respectively, in the odds of obesity. Spatial patterns show higher values of prevalence in the center area of the country, touristic destinations, head of province districts and in the borders with Panama. Conclusions: Especially for childhood obesity, the average years of schooling is a non-linear factor, describing a U-inverted curve. Lower percentages of households in poverty and population under 14 years old are slightly associated with higher levels of obesity. Districts with high commercial and touristic activity present higher prevalence risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number651
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).


  • Bayesian
  • Childhood
  • Costa Rica
  • Multinomial
  • Obesity
  • Overweight
  • Spatial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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