Overweight or obesity prevalence, trends and risk factors among women in Rwanda: A cross-sectional study using the Rwanda Demographic and Health Surveys, 2000–2010

  • Assumpta Mukabutera
  • Etienne Nsereko
  • Uwase Aline
  • Yves Didier Umwungerimwiza
  • Munyanshongore Cyprien
Keywords: overweight, obesity, women, Rwanda


Objectives: Obesity has been a growing concern worldwide and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular. The objective of this study was to explore the prevalence of and secular trends in the rate of being overweight/obese in Rwandan women and the associated socio-demographic risk factors.

Design: The study involved a secondary analysis of data from the Rwanda Demographic and Health Surveys (RDHSs) conducted in 2000, 2005 and 2010. These are countrywide, cross-sectional household studies conducted every five years. A stratified cluster sampling technique was used.

Setting: A total of 10,421 women in 2000, 11,539 in 2005 and 12,540 in 2010 participated in the population based household surveys in Rwanda.

Primary outcome measure: Participants whose body mass indexes were ≥25 kg/m2 were considered to be overweight/obese.

Results: The prevalence of woman being overweight/obese increased from 13% in 2000 to 16.5% in 2010. The highest prevalence rates in 2010 were found in Kigali city (35%) and other urban areas (31.5%). Women with higher levels of education and from wealthier households were more likely to be overweight/obese. Using multivariable logistic regression analysis in the full model, the area of residence, wealth, religion and the number of household members were found to be significantly associated with being overweight/obese. In the adjusted model only the first three of these were still associated with a significantly increased risk.

Conclusion: Being overweight/obese is becoming more common in Rwandan women, especially in those living in urban areas who are wealthy. Being overweight/obese is also associated with being Protestant. The reasons for this association are likely to be complex and require further study. Health awareness campaigns should recognise the importance of over-nutrition, as well as under nutrition, and should promote healthy diets and the importance of physical activity.

Keywords: overweight, obesity, women, Rwanda


Journal Identifiers

print ISSN: 2305-2678