Introduction: Overweight and obesity have become leading causes of non-communicable diseases and millions of deaths worldwide every year are attributed to these conditions. Currently, diseases such as high blood pressure, strokes, type II diabetes, cancer among others, are attributable to overweight and obesity. This study sought to determine demographic and socioeconomic aspects associated with overweight and obesity among women residing in rural and urban areas of Zambia. It further examined the differences in factors that affect the prevalence of overweight and obesity among women residing in urban and those in rural areas of Zambia.
Methods: The study analysed the BMI from a total of (6967) urban and (7855) rural women using data from the 2013-14 Zambia Demographic and Health Survey (ZDHS). Both univariate and bivariate analyses were performed to describe the study population. Binary logistic regression analysis was used to examine the effect of demographic and socioeconomic factors on overweight and obesity among women in rural and urban areas of Zambia.
Results: overweight and obesity prevalence were (21.2 percent and 10.8 percent) among urban women versus (11.9 percent and 2.9 percent) among rural women. Age, region of residence, educational level and household wealth of women were significant predictors of both overweight and obesity among women regardless of place of residence. Women in urban areas who resided in male headed households, had (4-6 children) and drunk alcohol had higher odds of being overweight, whereas, women in male headed households only and reported having been drinking alcohol were associated with being obese. Literacy was found to be a major contributor of overweight among rural women.
Conclusion: Overweight and obesity are markedly higher among urban women than rural women, and that differences on how these occur between these two groups of women have a socioeconomic and demographic dimension. In order to deal with increasing overweight and obesity challenges among women in Zambia, the paper recommends continued sensitizations about dangers of overweight and obesity with emphasis on behaviour changes in feeding or eating practices focussing more on traditional low fat and low calorie foods which in actual sense are cheaper and produce healthier results. Added to this recommendation is the need to change life styles to include routine exercising and increased medical check-ups.