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Int J Epidemiol. 2007 Apr;36(2):449-57. Epub 2007 Jan 22.

Trends of under- and overweight among rural and urban poor women indicate the double burden of malnutrition in Bangladesh.

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  • 1Helen Keller International, Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh. sohana@hkidhaka.org



Although undernutrition and communicable diseases dominate the current disease burden in resource-poor countries, the prevalence of diet related chronic diseases is increasing. This paper explores current trends of under- and overweight in Bangladeshi women.


Nationally representative data on reproductive age women from rural Bangladesh (n = 242,433) and selected urban poor areas (n = 39,749) collected by the Nutritional Surveillance Project during 2000-2004 were analyzed.


While the prevalence of chronic energy deficiency [CED, body mass index (BMI) < 18.5 kg/m(2)] continues to be major nutritional problem among Bangladeshi women (38.8% rural, 29.7% urban poor; P < 0.001), between 2000-2004, 9.1% of urban poor and 4.1% of rural women were overweight (BMI > or = 25 kg/m(2), P < 0.001). In addition, 9.8% of urban poor and 5.5% of rural women were found to be 'at risk of overweight' (BMI 23.0-<25 kg/m(2)). From 2000 to 2004, prevalence of CED decreased (urban poor: 33.8-29.3%; rural: 42.6-36.6%), while prevalence of overweight increased (urban poor: 6.8-9.1%; rural: 2.8-5.5%). The risk of being overweight was higher among women who were older and of higher socioeconomic status. Rural women with at least 14 years of education had a 8.1-fold increased risk of being overweight compared with non-educated women [95% confidence intervals (CI): 6.6-8.7]. Women living in houses of at least 1000 sq ft (93 m(2)) were 3.7 times more likely to be overweight compared with women living in <250 sq ft (23 m(2)) houses (95% CI: 3.2-4.3).


The recent increase in overweight prevalence among both urban poor and rural women, along with high prevalence of CED, indicates the emergence of a double burden of malnutrition in Bangladesh.

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