Prevalence of non-communicable diseases risk factors and their determinants: Results from STEPS survey 2019, Nepal

PLoS One. 2021 Jul 30;16(7):e0253605. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0253605. eCollection 2021.


Background: The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends ongoing surveillance of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their risk factors, using the WHO STEPwise approach to surveillance (STEPS). The aim of this study was to assess the distribution and determinants of NCD risk factors in Nepal, a low-income country, in which two-thirds (66%) of annual deaths are attributable to NCDs.

Methods: A nationally representative NCD risk factors STEPS survey (instrument version 3.2), was conducted between February and May 2019, among 6,475 eligible participants of age 15-69 years sampled from all 7 provinces through multistage sampling process. Data collection involved assessment of behavioral and biochemical risk factors. Complex survey analysis was completed in STATA 15, along with Poisson regression modelling to examine associations between covariates and risk factor prevalence.

Results: The most prevalent risk factor was consumption of less than five servings of fruit and vegetables a day (97%; 95% CI: 94.3-98.0). Out of total participants, 17% (95% CI: 15.1-19.1) were current smoker, 6.8% (95% CI: 5.3-8.2) were consuming ≥60g/month alcohol per month and 7.4% (95% CI:5.7-10.1) were having low level of physical activity. Approximately, 24.3% (95% CI: 21.6-27.2) were overweight or obese (BMI≥25kg/m2) while 24.5% (95% CI: 22.4-26.7) and 5.8% (95% CI: 4.3-7.3) had raised blood pressure (BP) and raised blood glucose respectively. Similarly, the prevalence of raised total cholesterol was 11% (95% CI: 9.6-12.6). Sex and education level of participants were statistically associated with smoking, harmful alcohol use and raised BP. Participants of age 30-44 years and 45-69 years were found to have increased risk of overweight, raised BP, raised blood sugar and raised blood cholesterol. Similarly, participants in richest wealth quintile had higher odds of insufficient physical inactivity, overweight and raised blood cholesterol. On average, each participant had 2 NCD related risk factors (2.04, 95% CI: 2.02-2.08).

Conclusion: A large portion of the Nepalese population are living with a variety of NCD risk factors. These surveillance data should be used to support and monitor province specific NCD prevention and control interventions throughout Nepal, supported by a multi-sectoral national coordination mechanism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Pressure
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nepal / epidemiology
  • Noncommunicable Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Overweight / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Vegetables
  • Young Adult


  • Blood Glucose
  • Cholesterol