Nearly one in five married women in Bangladesh are obese or overweight, new research from icddr,b has established. The study also identified a range of factors such as wealth index, educational status, hours spent behind television that contribute to excess weight, which could be targeted in interventions to reduce the prevalence of obesity in married women.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that at least 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. Being obese may be particularly harmful to women.
According to the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, obese women are at higher risk for diabetes and multiple cancers, including endometrial cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer, and perhaps ovarian cancer.
In 2016, Mr Haribondhu Sarma, head of icddr,b’s Nutrition Programme, along with colleagues from icddr,b and Stanford University, USA, analysed nutrition-related data from the 2011 Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey to identify factors associated with being overweight or obese among women aged 18-49 years who were, or had been, married.
The results, recently published in the journal BMC Obesity, revealed that out of 16,493 women, about 18% were overweight or obese. Urban women not in full-time employment were at 1.44 times higher risk of being overweight or obese than urban women involved in manual work. Women from wealthy and food-secure families were at higher risk of being overweight or obese in both rural and urban areas.”
“These increased levels of obesity will have severe implications for the health budget of our country,” said Dr Tahmeed Ahmed, Senior Director, Nutrition & Clinical Services at icddr,b and senior author of the study.
“Rates of obesity and overweight-related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic kidney diseases and heart diseases are going to escalate if not tackled,” he continued.
The growing problem of obesity presents a challenge for public healthcare systems in low- and middle-income countries, according to the study’s principal investigator, Haribondhu Sarma. “Traditionally, overweight and obesity were largely associated with high-income countries,” he said.