Hypertension and obesity in adults living in a high HIV prevalence rural area in South Africa

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47761. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047761. Epub 2012 Oct 17.


Hypertension and excess body weight are major risk factors of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in developing countries. In countries with a high HIV prevalence, it is unknown how increased antiretroviral treatment and care (ART) coverage has affected the prevalence of overweight, obesity, and hypertension. We conducted a health survey in 2010 based on the WHO STEPwise approach in 14,198 adult resident participants of a demographic surveillance area in rural South Africa to investigate factors associated with hypertension and excess weight including HIV infection and ART status. Women had a significantly higher median body mass index (BMI) than men (26.4 vs. 21.2 kg/m(2), p<0.001). The prevalence of obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)) in women (31.3%, 95% confidence interval (CI) 30.2-32.4) was 6.5 times higher than in men (4.9%, 95% CI 4.1-5.7), whereas prevalence of hypertension (systolic or diastolic blood pressure ≥ 140 or 90 mm Hg, respectively) was 1.4 times higher in women than in men (28.5% vs 20.8%, p<0.001). In multivariable regression analysis, both hypertension and obesity were significantly associated with sex, age, HIV and ART status. The BMI of women and men on ART was on average 3.8 (95% CI 3.2-3.8) and 1.7 (95% CI 0.9-2.5) kg/m(2) lower than of HIV-negative women and men, respectively. The BMI of HIV-infected women and men not on ART was on average 1.2 (95% CI 0.8-1.6) and 0.4 (95% CI -0.1-0.9) kg/m(2) lower than of HIV-negative women and men, respectively. Obesity was a bigger risk factor for hypertension in men (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.99, 95% CI 2.00-4.48) than in women (aOR 1.64, 95% CI 1.39-1.92) and overweight (25 ≤ BMI<30) was a significant risk factor for men only (aOR 1.53 95% CI 1.14-2.06). Our study suggests that, cardiovascular risk factors of hypertension and obesity differ substantially between women and men in rural South Africa.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Height
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight
  • Demography
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications*
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data*
  • South Africa / epidemiology
  • Young Adult