Prevalence, trends and associated socio-economic factors of obesity in South Asia

Jayawardena, Ranil, Byrne, Nuala M., Soares, Mario J., Katulanda, Prasad, & Hills, Andrew P. (2013) Prevalence, trends and associated socio-economic factors of obesity in South Asia. Obesity Facts, 6(5), pp. 405-414.

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Worldwide obesity levels have increased unprecedentedly over the past couple of decades. Although the prevalence, trends and associated socio-economic factors of the condition have been extensively reported in Western populations, less is known regarding South Asian populations.


A review of articles using Medline with combinations of the MeSH terms: 'Obesity', 'Overweight' and 'Abdominal Obesity' limiting to epidemiology and South Asian countries.


Despite methodological heterogeneity and variation according to country, area of residence and gender , the most recent nationally representative and large regional data demonstrates that without any doubt there is a epidemic of obesity, overweight and abdominal obesity in South Asian countries. Prevalence estimates of overweight and obesity (based on Asian cut-offs: overweight ≥ 23 kg/m(2), obesity ≥ 25 kg/m(2)) ranged from 3.5% in rural Bangladesh to over 65% in the Maldives. Abdominal obesity was more prevalent than general obesity in both sexes in this ethnic group. Countries with the lowest prevalence had the highest upward trend of obesity. Socio-economic factors associated with greater obesity in the region included female gender, middle age, urban residence, higher educational and economic status.


South Asia is significantly affected by the obesity epidemic. Collaborative public health interventions to reverse these trends need to be mindful of many socio-economic constraints in order to provide long-term solutions.

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13 citations in Scopus
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10 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 63831
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: obesity, socioeconomic factors, prevalance, south asia
DOI: 10.1159/000355598
ISSN: 1662-4033
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > HUMAN MOVEMENT AND SPORTS SCIENCE (110600)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Exercise & Nutrition Sciences
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 S. Karger GmbH, Freiburg
Copyright Statement: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-
NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (, applicable to
the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Deposited On: 30 Oct 2013 22:51
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2013 06:36

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