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Trends in overweight among women differ by occupational class: results from 33 low- and middle-income countries in the period 1992–2009
Authors: S Lopez-Arana, M Avendano, FJ van Lenthe, and A Burdorf
Source: International Journal of Obesity, 38(1):97-105. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.50. Epub 2013 May 7.
Topic(s): Nutrition
Country: More than one region
  Multiple Regions
Published: JAN 2014
Abstract: OBJECTIVE: There has been an increase in overweight among women in low- and middle-income countries but whether these trends differ for women in different occupations is unknown. We examined trends by occupational class among women from 33 low- and middle-income countries in four regions. DESIGN: Cross-national study with repeated cross-sectional demographic health surveys. SUBJECTS: Height and weight were assessed at least twice between 1992 and 2009 in 248 925 women aged 25–49 years. Interviews were conducted to assess occupational class, age, place of residence, educational level, household wealth index, parity, age at first birth and breastfeeding. We used logistic and linear regression analyses to assess the annual percent change in overweight (body mass index 425 kgm2) by occupational class. RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight ranged from 2.2% in Nepal in 1992–1997 to 75% in Egypt in 2004–2009. In all the four regions, women working in agriculture had consistently lower prevalence of overweight, while women from professional, technical, managerial as well as clerical occupational classes had higher prevalence. Although the prevalence of overweight increased in all the occupational classes in most regions, women working in agriculture and production experienced the largest increase in overweight over the study period, while women in higher occupational classes experienced smaller increases. To illustrate, overweight increased annually by 0.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean and by 0.7% in Sub-Saharan Africa among women from professional, technical and managerial classes, as compared with 2.8% and 3.7%, respectively, among women in agriculture. CONCLUSION: The prevalence of overweight has increased in most low- and middle-income countries, but women working in agriculture and production have experienced larger increases than women in higher occupational classes.