South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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Obesity and associated factors in young adults attending tertiary institutions in south-eastern Nigeria

Patricia Ogechi Ukegbu, Ada Charity Uwaegbute, Chinyere Akudo Echendu, Chukwunonso Ejike, Julie Uche Anyika-Elekeh, Victoria Uzoamaka Asumugha, Solomon Abasiekong Kuyik, Shola Omodamiro, Blessing Nwofia, Chinwe Uzokwe, Chidinma Oluchi-Nliam, Nnenna Uwakwe


Objective: To assess prevalence of overweight/obesity and associated factors in a group of university undergraduates in south-east Nigeria.

Design: Cross-sectional survey.

Setting: Five tertiary institutions in south-east Nigeria.

Methods: A total of 1610 undergraduates were selected using multistage sampling. A validated questionnaire on sociodemographic, dietary and lifestyle factors was used. Variables studied included body mass index (BMI), waist:hip ratio (WHR) and blood pressure (BP). Descriptive statistics and Chi square test were used for data analyses.

Results: Prevalence of obesity and overweight were 6.5% [4.2% males; 8.4% females (p < 0.05)] and 13.4% [8.4% males; 17.7% females (p < 0.05)], respectively. A higher prevalence of central obesity and abdominal obesity was found in the females (15.7% and 27.2%, respectively) compared to the males (1.1% and 2.4%, respectively) (p < 0.05). Consumption of unhealthy snack foods (X2 = 13.39), being a female (X2 = 47.91), first year student (X2 = 41.82), and having high systolic (X2 = 88.18) and diastolic (X2 = 10.17) BP were associated with obesity (p < 0.05).

Conclusions: Prevalence of obesity was high in the studied population and, if left unchecked, portends deleterious consequences, especially with respect to the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Keywords: association, obesity, overweight, socio-demographic factors, young adults
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