Cross-country comparison of dietary patterns and overweight and obesity among adult women in urban Sub-Saharan Africa

Public Health Nutr. 2021 Apr;24(6):1393-1403. doi: 10.1017/S1368980019005202. Epub 2020 May 11.


Objective: To derive dietary patterns (DP) among women of reproductive age (WRA) and older women in urban Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), and to examine their association with body mass index (BMI), overweight and obesity.

Design: We used principal component analysis to derive DP. Their association with BMI, overweight and obesity was assessed using linear and multinomial logistic regression models controlling for age, marital status, education and wealth.

Setting: Cross-sectional data from prospective studies in Accra, Ghana (2008-2009), Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (2014) and Lilongwe and Kasungu, Malawi (2017-2018) were used.

Participants: We compared WRA in Ghana (18-54 years, n 1762) and Malawi (19-48 years, n 137), and older women in Ghana (≥55 years, n 514) and Tanzania (≥50 years, n 134).

Results: Among WRA, protein and healthy DP were identified in both Ghana and Malawi. In Ghana, the protein DP was associated with higher odds of overweight or obesity (adjusted OR 1·82, 95 % CI 1·27, 2·60 for quintile 2). Among older women, three DP were identified in Ghana (cereal, protein and healthy) and two DP in Tanzania (protein and healthy). The protein DP was associated with higher BMI in Ghana (adjusted mean difference 2·83, 95 % CI 0·95, 4·71 for quartile 3).

Conclusions: Higher quintiles of the protein DP were associated with higher BMI and odds of overweight or obesity among women in urban Ghana, but not in Malawi or Tanzania. Further research is needed to understand how DP influence overweight and obesity among adult women in urban SSA.

Keywords: Dietary patterns; Obesity; Older women; Overweight; Sub-Saharan Africa; Women of reproductive age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Obesity* / epidemiology
  • Obesity* / etiology
  • Overweight* / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tanzania / epidemiology