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Transitions between body mass index categories, South Africa

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review


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Objective: To profile the prevalence of the three body mass index (BMI) categories by sociodemographic characteristics, and to calculate the percentage transitioning (or not) from one BMI category to another, to inform South African health policy for the control of obesity and noncommunicable diseases.

Methods: We used data from the National Income Dynamics Study, including sociodemographic characteristics and BMI measurements collected in 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2017. For each data collection wave and each population group, we calculated mean BMI and prevalence by category. We also calculated the percentage making an upwards transition (e.g. from overweight to obese), a downwards transition or remaining within a particular category. We used a multinomial logistic regression model to estimate transition likelihood.

Findings: Between 2008 and 2017, mean BMI increased by 2.3 kg/m2. We calculated an increased prevalence of obesity from 19.7% (3686/18 679) to 23.6% (3412/14 463), with the largest increases in prevalence for those aged 19-24 years and those with at least high school education. The percentages of upwards transitions to overweight or obese categories increased sharply between the ages of 19 and 50 years. Once overweight or obese, the likelihood of transitioning to a normal BMI is low, particularly for women, those of higher age groups, and those with a higher income and a higher level of education.

Conclusion: In the development of national strategies to control obesity and noncommunicable diseases, our results will allow limited public health resources to be focused on the relevant population groups.

TidsskriftBulletin of the World Health Organization
Udgave nummer12
Sider (fra-til)878-885I
StatusUdgivet - 1 dec. 2020

Bibliografisk note

(c) 2020 The authors; licensee World Health Organization.

ID: 61432939