South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Determinants of obesity and perception of weight in hypertensive patients in rural South Africa

PR Duncan, LD Howe, Z Manukusa, S Purdy


Objective: The objective of the study was to identify factors associated with being overweight or obese, and perceptions of weight by hypertensive patients living in rural South Africa.
Design: This was a nested cross-sectional study.
Setting: The setting was primary healthcare clinics close to Manguzi Hospital, KwaZulu-Natal.
Subjects: Subjects were 109 males and 391 females, prescribed at least one antihypertensive medication aged ≥ 18 years.
Outcome measures: The primary outcome measure was body mass index (BMI) ≥ 25 kg/m2. The secondary outcome measure was recognition of being overweight by those with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2.
Results: The mean age was 58 years. Three hundred and ninety-one (78%) participants were female, and the majority had never been to school or had attended primary school only. Three hundred and eleven (62%) participants were overweight or obese, with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2. Factors associated with being overweight or obese included having high cholesterol [adjusted odds ratio (OR) 10.62, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.22-92.4, p-value 0.032], and having never smoked (adjusted OR 3.22, 95% CI: 1.38-7.52, p-value 0.007. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) was associated with a lower risk of being overweight or obese (adjusted OR 0.52 for BMI ≥ 25, 95% CI: 0.31-0.89, p-value < 0.0001). Only 12% of participants who were overweight or obese perceived that they were overweight. Participants with a BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2 were most likely to recognise they were overweight if they had high cholesterol, diabetes or HIV.
Conclusion: Almost two thirds of participants were overweight or obese, and of these, only 12% perceived that they were overweight. Educating patients about obesity, particularly when they have other cardiovascular risk factors such as hypertension, is of public health importance.

Keywords: obesity, overweight, weight perception, hypertension, body mass index
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