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J Nutr. 2009 Nov;139(11):2139-44. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.112029. Epub 2009 Sep 23.

Nationally representative surveys show recent increases in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among women of reproductive age in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India.

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Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Our aims in this study were to examine trends in the prevalence of overweight-obesity and underweight among women of reproductive age in 3 South Asian countries between 1996 and 2006 and to identify sociodemographic correlates of overweight in the most recent survey. Using nationally representative data from 8 Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in Bangladesh (n = 19,211), Nepal (n = 19,354), and India (n = 161,755), we examined the change in the prevalence rates of overweight-obesity (BMI > or = 25 kg/m(2)) and underweight (BMI < 18.5 kg/m(2)) over a recent 7- to 10-y period among women aged 15-49 y. The prevalence of overweight-obesity increased substantially in all countries. Comparing the first to the latest survey in Bangladesh, the prevalence of overweight-obesity increased from 2.7 to 8.9% [age and parity-adjusted prevalence ratio (PR): 2.42; 95% CI: 1.88, 3.13]; in Nepal, from 1.6 to 10.1% [adjusted PR: 4.18; 95% CI: 3.00, 5.83]; and in India, from 10.6 to 14.8% [adjusted PR: 1.28; 95% CI: 1.20, 1.36]. These increases were observed in both rural and urban areas and were greater in rural areas. During the study period, the prevalence of underweight decreased substantially in Bangladesh and only modestly in Nepal and India. Overweight-obesity was positively related to age, higher socioeconomic status, and urban residence in all countries. In conclusion, while the prevalence of underweight has remained high in Bangladesh, Nepal, and India, the prevalence of overweight-obesity in women of reproductive age has risen between 1996 and 2006.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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