Prevalence of obesity, physical inactivity and undernutrition, a triple burden of diseases during transition in a developing economy. The Five City Study Group

Acta Cardiol. 2007 Apr;62(2):119-27. doi: 10.2143/AC.62.2.2020231.


Objective and design: The objective of the study was to find out the prevalence of overweight, obesity, undernutrition and physical activity status in the urban populations of India. Cross-sectional surveys were conducted in 6-12 urban streets in each of five cities in five different regions of India using a common study protocol and criteria of diagnosis.

Subjects and methods: A total of 6940 subjects (3433 women and 3507 men) aged 25 years and above were randomly selected from the cities of Moradabad (n = 2002),Trivandrum (n = 1602), Calcutta (n = 900), Nagpur (n = 894) and Bombay (n = 1542). Evaluation and validation were performed by a physician and dietitian-administered questionnaire at Moradabad. After pooling of data, all subjects were divided into various age groups for men and women. Obesity (body mass index = 30 > kg/m(2)) and overweight (BMI 2 25-29.9 kg/m(2) and > 23 kg/m(2)) as well as waist-hip ratio (> 0.85 in women and > 0.88 in men, central obesity) were calculated and physical activity status assessed by a validated questionnaire.

Results: The overall prevalence of obesity was 6.8% (7.8 vs. 6.2%, P < 0.05) and overweight 33.5% (35.0 vs. 32.0%, P < 0.05) among women and men, respectively. The highest prevalence of obesity (7.8%) and overweight (36.9%) was found among subjects aged 35 to 44 years in both sexes. The prevalence of obesity was significantly (P < 0.05) greater in Trivandrum (8.5%), Calcutta (7. 1%) and Bombay (8.3%) compared to Moradabad (6.2%) among women and in Trivandrum (7.4%) and Bombay (7.2%), compared to Nagpur (5.0%) among men. There was a significant decreasing trend in obesity (P < 0.05) and overweight (P < 0.05) with increasing age above 35-44 years in both sexes. The overall prevalence of subjects > 23 kg/m(2) was 50.8% and central obesity 52.6%. The overall prevalence of sedentary behaviour was 59.3% among women and 58.5% among men. Both sedentary behaviour and mild activity showed a significant increasing trend in women after the age of 35-44 years. In men, such a trend was observed above the age of 45 years. Sedentary behaviour was significantly (P < 0.05) greater in Trivandrum, Calcutta, and Bombay compared to Nagpur. Sedentary behaviour was significantly (P < 0.001) associated with obesity in both sexes, compared to non-obese men and women. The overall prevalence of undernutrition was 5.5% (n = 380) which was significantly more common in Moradabad, north and Nagpur, central India compared to other cities.

Conclusions: Obesity, overweight and central obesity and sedentary behaviour coexist with undernutrition, and have become a public health problem in all the five cities of India. The prevalence of obesity and sedentary behaviour was significantly greater in Trivandrum, Calcutta and Bombay compared to Moradabad and Nagpur. Sedentary behaviour was significantly associated with obesity compared to non-obese subjects in both sexes, which may be due to greater economic development in metro cities.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • India / epidemiology
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Malnutrition / economics
  • Malnutrition / epidemiology*
  • Malnutrition / physiopathology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Obesity / economics
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Overweight
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Urban Population
  • Waist-Hip Ratio