Modifiable socio-behavioural factors associated with overweight and hypertension among persons aged 35 to 60 years in eastern Uganda

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47632. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047632. Epub 2012 Oct 15.


Background: Few studies have examined the behavioural correlates of non-communicable, chronic disease risk in low-income countries. The objective of this study was to identify socio-behavioural characteristics associated with being overweight or being hypertensive in a low-income setting, so as to highlight possible interventions and target groups.

Methods: A population based survey was conducted in a Health and Demographic Surveillance Site (HDSS) in eastern Uganda. 1656 individuals aged 35 to 60 years had their Body Mass Index (BMI) and blood pressure (BP) assessed. Seven lifestyle factors were also assessed, using a validated questionnaire. Logistic regression was used to identify socio-behavioural factors associated with being overweight or being hypertensive.

Results: Prevalence of overweight was found to be 18% (25.2% of women; 9.7% of men; p<0.001) while prevalence of obesity was 5.3% (8.3% of women; 2.2% of men). The prevalence of hypertension was 20.5%. Factors associated with being overweight included being female (OR 3.7; 95% CI 2.69-5.08), peri-urban residence (OR 2.5; 95% CI 1.46-3.01), higher socio-economic status (OR 4.1; 95% CI 2.40-6.98), and increasing age (OR 1.8; 95% CI 1.12-2.79). Those who met the recommended minimum physical activity level, and those with moderate dietary diversity were less likely to be overweight (OR 0.5; 95% CI 0.35-0.65 and OR 0.7; 95% CI 0.49-3.01). Factors associated with being hypertensive included peri-urban residence (OR 2.4; 95%CI 1.60-3.66), increasing age (OR 4.5; 95% CI 2.94-6.96) and being over-weight (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.98-3.98). Overweight persons in rural areas were significantly more likely to be hypertensive than those in peri-urban areas (p = 0.013).

Conclusions: Being overweight in low-income settings is associated with sex, physical activity and dietary diversity and being hypertensive is associated with being overweight; these factors are modifiable. There is need for context-specific health education addressing disparities in lifestyles at community levels in rural Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Overweight / epidemiology*
  • Social Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uganda / epidemiology

Grants and funding

This work was funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through a joint training and capacity building program between Makerere University in Uganda and Karolinska Institutet in Sweden. The grant covered the costs of field work, including training of research assistants, data collection and entry ( The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.