Estimating the burden of disease attributable to excess body weight in South Africa in 2000

  • Jané Joubert
  • Rosana Norman
  • Debbie Bradshaw
  • Julia H Goedecke
  • Nelia P Steyn
  • Thandi Puoane


Objective. To estimate the burden of disease attributable to excess body weight using the  body mass index (BMI), by age and sex, in South Africa in 2000.

Design. World Health Organization comparative risk assessment (CRA) methodology was followed. Re-analysis of the 1998 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey data provided mean BMI estimates by age and sex. Population attributable fractions were calculated and applied to revised burden of disease estimates. Monte Carlo simulation-modelling techniques were used for the uncertainty analysis.

Setting. South Africa.

Subjects. Adults  ≥ 30 years of age.

Outcome measures. Deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) from ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke, hypertensive disease, osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and selected cancers. Results. Overall, 87% of type 2 diabetes, 68% of hypertensive disease, 61 % of endometrial cancer, 45% of ischaemic stroke, 38% of ischaemic heart disease, 31 % of  kidney cancer, 24% of osteoarthritis, 17% of colon cancer, and 13% of postmenopausal breast cancer were attributable to a BMI ≥ 21 kg/m2. Excess body weight is estimated to have caused 36 504 deaths (95% uncertainty interval 31 018 - 38 637) or 7% (95% uncertainty interval 6.0 - 7.4%) of all deaths in 2000, and 462 338 DALYs (95% uncertainty interval 396 512 - 478 847) or 2.9% of all DALYs (95% uncertainty interval 2.4 - 3.0%). The burden in
females was approximately double that in males.

Conclusions. This study shows the importance of recognising excess body weight as a major risk to health, particularly among females, highlighting the need to develop, implement and evaluate comprehensive interventions to achieve lasting change in the determinants and impact of excess body weight.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0256-95749
print ISSN: 2078-5135