Obesity among women: A complex setting

  • H Salome Kruger North-West University


The prevalence of adult obesity now exceeds underweight in most countries of the world where obesity prevalence data are available, except in some Asian and sub-Saharan African countries.1 The most recent South African Demographic and Health Survey (SADHS 2016) provides updated information on the prevalence of overweight and obesity in the adult population. Based on the body mass index (BMI) categories, 68% of South African women and 31% of men were overweight or obese.2 The higher prevalence of overweight and obesity among women as opposed to men in South Africa is consistent with results from some other low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and an obesity prevalence of higher than 30% among South African women is similar to the obesity prevalence in high-income English-speaking countries and in north Africa.1 In contrast to these findings, some countries in sub-Saharan Africa still reported a higher prevalence of underweight than obesity among adults in 2014.1 Obesity is an important risk factor for several noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).3 Therefore halting the increase in obesity prevalence is one of the global NCD targets4 and also one of the targets of the South African Department of Health in its Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.5 In the current issue of SAJCN a high prevalence of overweight and obesity is described among two distinct groups of South African women, namely university students6 and adult women living with HIV.7 Although both studies had small sample sizes, similar findings were reported in studies with larger sample sizes.2,8 People living with HIV and AIDS are noted as a vulnerable group at higher risk for developing NCDs in the South African Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of NCDs.5

Author Biography

H Salome Kruger, North-West University
Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, North-West University