The overlap of overweight and anaemia among women in three countries undergoing the nutrition transition

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2008 Feb;62(2):238-46. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1602727. Epub 2007 Mar 21.


Objective: To compare the odds of anaemia in overweight and obese (OVWT) (body mass index (BMI) > or =25) versus non-overweight (non-OVWT) (BMI<25) women in three countries at different stages of the nutrition transition.

Design: Analysis of cross-sectional data.

Setting: Nationally representative data from Mexico (1998 National Nutrition Survey), Peru and Egypt (2000 Demographic and Health Surveys) were analyzed.

Subjects: Data from non-pregnant women ages 18-49 years were used.

Analysis: Logistic regression was used to test whether the odds of anaemia differed by BMI category, controlling for sociodemographic factors.

Results: More than half of the women were OVWT in all three countries and the prevalence of OVWT reached 77% in Egypt. Anaemia prevalence was similar across countries (28, 31 and 23% in Egypt, Peru and Mexico respectively). In Egypt, OVWT women had significantly lower odds of anaemia than non-OVWT women (OR=0.78, 95% CI: 0.68, 0.90). Similar results were found in Peru, but the difference was smaller in magnitude (OR=0.83, 95% CI: 0.71, 0.96). In Mexico, there were no differences in the odds of anaemia by BMI group.

Conclusions: These findings show that the iron needs of OVWT women in developing countries are not necessarily being met. The intakes of other micronutrients might also be insufficient. Diet quality remains an important issue even among women with sufficient energy intakes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / blood
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / epidemiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / standards*
  • Educational Status
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Iron, Dietary / administration & dosage*
  • Logistic Models
  • Mexico / epidemiology
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage
  • Micronutrients / deficiency
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Nutritive Value
  • Odds Ratio
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Peru / epidemiology
  • Social Class


  • Iron, Dietary
  • Micronutrients