Document Type



Community Health Sciences


Background: Adverse health outcomes are associated with overweight and obesity. In February 2000, the WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific, the International Association for the Study of Obesity and the International Obesity Task Force published provisional recommendations for adults for the Asia-Pacific region: overweight at Body Mass Index (BMI) > or = 23 and obesity at BMI > or = 25.Methods: Data from the National Health Survey of Pakistan, 1990-94 were reanalyzed using BMI cut-offs recommended for Asians to reassess prevalence of overweight and obesity in the adult Pakistani population.Results: Prevalence of obesity (BMI > or = 25) in 25-44 year olds in rural areas was 9% for men and 14% for women; in urban areas, prevalence was 22% and 37% for men and women, respectively. For 45-64 year olds, prevalence was 11% for men and 19% for women in rural areas, and 23% and 40% in urban areas for men and women, respectively. Obesity prevalence was directly associated with SES, regardless of residence.CONCLUSION: In South Asia, including Pakistan, social and environmental changes are occurring rapidly, with increasing urbanization, changing lifestyles, higher energy density of diets, and reduced physical activity. The coexistence of underweight in early life with obesity in adults may presage both a higher prevalence and incidence for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and diabetes. Use of BMI > or = 23 for overweight, and BMI > or = 25 for obesity, may provide a more accurate determination of the health of Pakistanis, especially in those with more than one risk factor for NCDs.


Journal of Pakistan Medical Association