Obesity and the nutrition transition in Sub-Saharan Africa

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 Apr;1311:88-101. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12433.


This review illustrates the outcomes of the nutrition transition in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and its association with overweight and obesity; the relationship with the double burden of malnutrition is also explored. We describe the increase in overweight in nearly all Sub-Saharan African countries and present data on associated increased gross domestic product, and availability of energy, protein, fat, and sugar at country national levels. Predictors of overweight are described by means of various studies undertaken in SSA, and dietary intakes of numerous countries are presented. Overall, we show that socioeconomic status, gender, age, parity, physical inactivity, and increased energy, fat, and sugar intake are powerful predictors of overweight and/or obesity. The urgency for health interventions in countries in the early stages of the nutrition transition is emphasized, particularly in view of the fact that fat intake is still less than 30% of energy intake in nearly all Sub-Saharan African countries.

Keywords: Sub-Saharan Africa; diet; nutrition; nutrition transition; obesity, noncommunicable diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Humans
  • Malnutrition / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Social Class