Socio-demographic and lifestyle factors predict 5-year changes in adiposity among a group of black South African adults

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Peer-Reviewed Research
  • SDG 3
  • Abstract:

    The rising prevalence of obesity and excessive adiposity are global public health concerns. Understanding determinants of changes in adiposity over time is critical for informing effective evidence-based prevention or treatment. However, limited information is available to achieve this objective. Cultural, demographic, environmental, and behavioral factors including socio-economic status (SES) likely account for obesity development. To this end, we related these variables to anthropometric measures in 1058 black adult Tswana-speaking South Africans who were HIV negative in a prospective study over five years. Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference increased in both sexes, whereas triceps skinfold thickness remained the same. Over the five years, women moved to higher BMI categories and more were diagnosed with central obesity. Age correlated negatively, whereas SES, physical activity, energy, and fat intake correlated positively with adiposity markers in women. In men, SES, marital status, physical activity, and being urban predicted increases in adiposity. For women, SES and urbanicity increased, whereas menopause and smoking decreased adiposity. Among men, smokers had less change in BMI than those that never smoked over five years. Our findings suggest that interventions, focusing on the urban living, the married and those with the highest SES—the high-risk groups identified herein—are of primary importance to contain morbidity and premature mortality due to obesity in black South Africans