Back to browse results
Abdominal obesity in India: analysis of the National Family Health Survey-5 (2019–2021) data
Authors: Monika Chaudhary and Priyanshu Sharma
Source: Lancet Regional Health - Southeast Asia, Volume 14; DOI:
Topic(s): Obesity
Country: Asia
Published: JUL 2023
Abstract: Background The ever-growing trend of abdominal obesity worldwide has garnered global attention over the past three decades. In India, BMI has conventionally been used to measure obesity. National Family Health Survey (NFHS) is the largest demographic and health survey (DHS) in India. For the first time, the NFHS conducted the fifth round in 2019–21 which assessed abdominal obesity through waist circumference. The objective of the current study was to determine the prevalence of abdominal obesity and explore the associated socioeconomic factors. Methods The prevalence of abdominal obesity in India was determined using the NFHS-5 dataset, where waist circumference was used as a measure. Multivariable binary logistic regression was then employed to examine the association of different socioeconomic factors with abdominal obesity. Findings The prevalence of abdominal obesity in the country was found to be 40% in women and 12% in men. The findings show that 5–6 out of 10 women between the ages of 30–49 are abdominally obese. The association of abdominal obesity in women is stronger with older age groups, urban residents, wealthier sections, and non-vegetarians. For those practising the Sikh religion, the prevalence is higher in both men and women. Abdominal obesity is also on the rise in rural areas and is penetrating lower and middle socioeconomic sections of society. Interpretation The findings of the current study highlight the need for the government and other stakeholders to proactively design targeted interventions for abdominal obesity, especially for women in their thirties and forties in India. Further research is recommended to understand the driving factors of abdominal obesity, their inter-operability, and the disease risk associated with this type of obesity.