Background: Obesity is a major health problem, and there is an increasing trend of overweight and obese individuals in developing countries. Being overweight or obese is known to contribute significantly to morbidity and mortality rates in various countries around the world. We therefore aimed to identify and discuss current epidemiological data on the prevalence of obesity in Nigeria.
Method: A systematic review of papers published on the prevalence of obesity among adults in the country was carried out. We covered work published in MEDLINE, PubMed, Google, and African Journals Online using the terms "prevalence of overweight and obesity in Nigeria" or "overweight and obesity in Nigeria." In addition, personal inquiries were made. The search limits were articles published from January 2001 to September 2012. Only studies that used the body mass index to assess for overweight and obesity were included.
Results: Four studies met the inclusion criteria out of the 75 studies reviewed. In Nigeria, the prevalence of overweight individuals ranged from 20.3%-35.1%, while the prevalence of obesity ranged from 8.1%-22.2%.
Conclusion: The prevalence of overweight and obese individuals in Nigeria is of epidemic proportions. There is a need to pay closer attention to combating these health disorders.
Keywords: BMI; body mass index; obesity; overweight.