Prevalence and correlates of obesity among Lusaka residents, Zambia: a population-based survey

Int Arch Med. 2012 May 2;5(1):14. doi: 10.1186/1755-7682-5-14.


Background: Non-communicable lifestyle diseases are a growing public health concern globally. Obesity is a risk factor for premature mortality from cardiovascular diseases and diabetes as well as all-cause mortality. The objective of the study was to estimate the prevalence and associated factors for obesity among Zambian adults in Lusaka district.

Methods: A community-based study was done among adults in Zambia. Descriptive and co-relational analyses were conducted to estimate the prevalence of being obese as well as identify associated factors.

Results: A total of 1,928 individuals participated in the survey, of which 33.0% were males. About half of the participants were aged 25-34 years (53.2%), and about two-thirds had attended at least secondary level of education (63.9%). Overall, 14.2% of the participants (5.1% of males, and 18.6% of females) were obese. Significant factors associated with obesity were sex, age, education, cigarette smoking and blood pressure. Male participants were 55% (AOR = 0.45; 95% CI [0.29, 0.69]) less likely to be obese compared to female participants. Compared to participants who were of age 45 years or older, participants of age 25-34 years were 61% (AOR = 0.39 (95% CI [0.23, 0.67]) less likely to be obese. Compared to participants who attained college or university level of education, participants who had no formal education were 63% (AOR = 0.37; 95% CI [0.15, 0.91]) less likely to be obese; and participants who had attained secondary level of education were 2.22 (95% CI [1.21, 4.07]) times more likely to be obese. Participants who smoked cigarettes were 67% (AOR = 0.33; 95% CI [0.12, 0.95]) less likely to be obese compared to participants who did not smoke cigarettes. Compared to participants who had severe hypertension, participants who had moderate hypertension were 3.46 (95% CI [1.34, 8.95]) times more likely to be obese.

Conclusions: The findings from this study indicate that Zambian women are more at risk of being obese. Prevention and control measures are needed to address high prevalence and gender inequalities in risks for non-communicable diseases in Zambia. Such measures should include policies that support gender specific approaches for the promotion of health behavior changes.