Background: To date there has been no population-based survey of the major risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCD) in Uganda. Hospital-based data from urban centres report an increasing burden of NCDs in Uganda. This population-based survey aimed to describe the prevalence of risk factors for NCDs in a rural Ugandan district.
Methods: The survey was conducted using the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance of non-communicable diseases (STEPS) methodology. Participants (n = 611) were residents of the Kasese district selected in a one-step, complete survey of a rural district. Standardised international protocols were used to record history of disease, and measure behavioural risk factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity), physical characteristics [weight, height, waist and hip circumferences, blood pressure (BP)], fasting blood glucose (BG) and total cholesterol (TC) levels. Data were analysed using simple descriptive analysis.
Results: In this sample, the prevalence of hypertension (systolic BP ≥ 140 mmHg and/or diastolic BP ≥ 90 mmHg) was 22.1% for men and 20.5% for women. Fifteen per cent of men and 16.8% of women were overweight [body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m(2)] and 4.9% of men and 9.0% of women were obese (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m(2)). Nine per cent of participants were diabetic, 7.2% ate five or more combined servings of fruit per day while only 1.2% ate five or more combined servings of vegetables per day. Fifty-one per cent of the population were physically inactive and 9.6% were daily smokers. Thirty-one per cent of females had fasting blood sugar levels (FBS) ≥ 6.1 mmol/l while 10% of males had FBS > 6.1 mmol/l.
Conclusion: This study presents evidence on the magnitude of NCDs, their risk factors and gender distribution in a rural population in Uganda, a poor country in east-central Africa. These data, when combined with urban population data, could be useful in the formulation and advocacy of NCD policy and plans of action in Uganda.