Analysis of main risk factors contributing to obesity in the region of East Africa: meta-analysis
Background: Over a few decades obesity has become a major global health problem. Its prevalence worldwide has more than doubled since 1980. The situation is expected to worsen in the future, especially in the developing countries that experience nutrition transition due to economic growth. It contributes to reduction in malnutrition which supports an increase in obesity prevalence.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to analyse the predictors of obesity in the region of East Africa.
Methods: Meta-analysis of existing studies was used in order to find the different risk factors and their significance in obesity development. Data extracted from 16 published academic research articles described the situation in East African countries. The significance of the effect of each variable was tested by means of an asymptotic chi-square test, or Fisher's exact (factorial) test and the risk ratios were calculated.
Results: Based on the chi-square test and the risk ratios of the aggregated data, three risk factors were found to be significant in the development of obesity – gender, type of residence and socio-economic status. In East African countries, women are significantly more likely to be obese. Living in an urban area and socioeconomic status are also positively associated with obesity. Because of insufficient data three other risk factors did not prove to be of any significance – alcohol consumption, smoking and education level.
Conclusion: Conclusions of this meta-analysis confirm world trends but we also found results that are not in line with them (e.g. education). This meta-analysis confirms the huge existing research gap concerning obesity predictors in the East African region.
Keywords: Obesity; meta-analysis; East Africa.
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