Multimorbidity prevalence in the general population: the role of obesity in chronic disease clustering

BMC Public Health. 2013 Dec 10;13:1161. doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-13-1161.


Background: The role of obesity in the prevalence and clustering of multimorbidity, the occurrence of two or more chronic conditions, is understudied. We estimated the prevalence of multimorbidity by obesity status, and the interaction of obesity with other predictors of multimorbidity.

Methods: Data from adult respondents (18 years and over) to the Health Quality Council of Alberta 2012 Patient Experience Survey were analyzed. Multivariable regression models were fitted to test for associations.

Results: The survey sample included 4803 respondents; 55.8% were female and the mean age was 47.8 years (SD, 17.1). The majority (62.0%) of respondents reported having at least one chronic condition. The prevalence of multimorbidity, including obesity, was 36.0% (95% CI, 34.8 - 37.3). The prevalence of obesity alone was 28.1% (95% CI 26.6 - 29.5). Having obesity was associated with more than double the odds of multimorbidity (odds ratio = 2.2, 95% CI 1.9 - 2.7) compared to non-obese.

Conclusions: The prevalence of multimorbidity in the general population is high, but even higher in obese than non-obese persons. These findings may be relevant for surveillance, prevention and management strategies for multimorbidity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Comorbidity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult