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Prevalence and time trends in overweight and obesity among urban women: an analysis of demographic and health surveys data from 24 African countries, 1991–2014
Authors: Dickson Abanimi Amugsi, Zacharie T Dimbuene, Blessing Mberu, Stella Muthuri, and Alex C Ezeh
Source: BMJ Open, 7: e017344; DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-017344
Topic(s): Nutrition
Women's height
Country: Africa
   Multiple African Countries
Published: OCT 2017
Abstract: Objective To examine the prevalence and trends in overweight and obesity among non-pregnant urban women in Africa over the past two and a half decades. Design Cross-sectional surveys conducted between 1991 and 2014. Settings Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), repeated cross-sectional data collected in 24 African countries. Participants Adult non-pregnant women aged 15–49 years. The earlier DHS collected anthropometric data on only those women who had children aged 0–5 years. The main analyses were limited to this subgroup. The participants were classified as overweight (25.0–29.9?kg/m2) and obese (=30.0?kg/m2). Results The prevalence of overweight and obesity among women increased in all the 24 countries. Trends were statistically significant in 17 of the 24 countries in the case of obesity and 13 of the 24 for overweight. In Ghana, overweight almost doubled (p=0.001) while obesity tripled (p=0.001) between 1993 and 2014. Egypt has the highest levels of overweight and obesity at 44% (95% CI 42%, 46.5%) and 39% (95% CI 36.6%, 41.8%), respectively, in 2014 and the trend showed significant increase (p=0.005) from 1995 levels. Also, obesity doubled in Kenya, Benin, Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Uganda, while tripled in Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania. Ethiopia and Madagascar had the lowest prevalence of both obesity and overweight, with overweight ranging from 7% to 12%?and obesity from 1% to 4%. Conclusions Overweight and obesity are increasing among women of reproductive age in urban Africa, with obesity among this age group having more than doubled or tripled in 12 of the 24 countries. There is an urgent need for deliberate policies and interventions to encourage active lifestyles and healthy eating behaviour to curb this trend in urban Africa.