Background: Malnutrition is the biggest single contributor to child mortality in developing countries. The 6 minute walk test is a practical simple test which evaluates responses of the pulmonary and cardiovascular system during exercise. Hence this study was conducted to determine if the 6 minute walk test can be used s an initial screening tool of cardiac function among underweight and overweight children in the pediatric outpatient clinic, to determine the correlation between among walk performance and BMI among overweight and underweight children.
Methods: All children from Grades 4 and 5 were screened. Those who are overweight of overweight according to their body mass index were enrolled in the study. Physical examination was done. A 6 minute walk test was conducted. Before the walk started and at the end, heart rate and oxygen saturations were determined. Severity of dyspnea was determined by the Borg dyspnea scale.
Results: All othe 41 participants completed the 6 minute wallk test. At the end of the exercise, HR significantly increased to 28% for the underweight group and 38% for the overweight group (p value of 0.000 and 0.016 respectively). The mean distance walked were 480.21 ± 34.04 meters in overweight and 478.94 ± 28.57 meters in underweight. There is an indirect relationship in overweight children.
Conclusion: It was seen in this study that in the underweight and overweight children the mean distance walked was much lower than reference value. The more underweight and overweight the child the more changes in the HR. The six minute walk test is easy and safe to perform in the pediatric out-patient clinic and can be used as a screening tool for cardiovascular function in underweight and overweight children. There is a significant correlation between heart rate and BMI. it is recommended that these children should be screened further for prevention of health related diseases and/or inclusion in a program for maintaining weight at optimal levels.