Assessing obesity and overweight in a high mountain Pakistani population

Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of obesity and overweight among adults in a high mountain rural population of Pakistan, and to determine the correlates of excess body weight. Design Cross-sectional study.Methods: A random sample of 4203 adults (aged 18 years and over) was selected by stratified random sampling from 16 villages in north Pakistan. Trained medical students measured height, weight and blood pressure. Trained interviewers obtained information from participants on sociodemographic variables, use of snuff, daily cigarette consumption, hypertension and family history of hypertension. Body mass index (BMI) calculated as kg/m(2) was used to define overweight (BMI > or = 25 kg/m(2)) and obesity (BMI > or = 30 kg/m(2)).Results: Using weight and height data available for 1391 men and 2754 women, mean BMI was 22.4 (95% CI 21.9, 22.9) for men and 22.6 (95% CI 21.9, 23.2) for women. The age-adjusted prevalence of BMI > or = 25 (overweight/obesity) was 13.5% for men and 14.1% for women. Overweight/obesity increased with age and the increase per year was identical for both men and women [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.01, 95% CI 1.01, 1.03]. Overweight/obese men and women were more likely to be hypertensive (men, AOR = 3.32, 95% CI 2.16, 5.09; women, AOR = 1.70, 95% CI 1.21, 2.39). Overweight/obese women were more likely to work in business or as skilled workers (AOR = 6.24, 95% CI 1.18, 32.83) while overweight/obese men were more likely to work as government employees (AOR = 2.59, 95% CI 1.66, 4.03). Family history of hypertension was a significant correlate of overweight/obesity in men (P value 0.004) and women (P value 0.000). Overweight/obese men and women were less likely to use smokeless tobacco (men, AOR = 0.65, 95% CI 0.43, 0.97; women, AOR = 0.54, 95% CI 0.35, 0.85).CONCLUSION: The prevalence of risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in Pakistan is expected to increase as further epidemiologic, nutritional and demographic changes occur. The assessment of excess body weight, and patterns and determinants of other risk factors for NCDs is important to provide useful guidelines in the planning of interventions to counter a growing problem.


Tropical Medicine and International Health