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Open Access Research article

Anthropometry measures and prevalence of obesity in the urban adult population of Cameroon: an update from the Cameroon Burden of Diabetes Baseline Survey

Raoul M Kamadjeu1*, Richard Edwards2, Joseph S Atanga1, Emmanuel C Kiawi1, Nigel Unwin3 and Jean-Claude Mbanya1

Author Affiliations

1 Health of Population in Transition (HoPiT) Research Group. Faculty of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (FMSB). Yaoundé University I, Cameroon

2 Department of Public Health, Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Otago, Wellington, New Zealand

3 The Medical School, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Department of Medicine and Human Diabetes and Metabolism Research Centre, the Medical School. University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

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BMC Public Health 2006, 6:228  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-6-228

Published: 13 September 2006

Abstract

Background

The objective of the study was to provide baseline and reference data on the prevalence and distribution of overweight and obesity, using different anthropometric measurements in adult urban populations in Cameroon.

Methods

The Cameroon Burden of Diabetes Baseline Survey was a cross-sectional study, conducted in 4 urban districts (Yaoundé, Douala, Garoua and Bamenda) of Cameroon, using the WHO Step approach for population-based assessment of cardiovascular risk factors. Body mass index, waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio were measured using standardized methods. Overall, 10,011 individuals, 6,004 women and 4,007 men, from 4,189 households, aged 15 years and above participated.

Results

Based on body mass index, more than 25% of urban men and almost half of urban women were either overweight or obese with 6.5% of men and 19.5% of women being obese. The prevalence of obesity showed considerable variation with age in both genders. Using body mass index provided the highest prevalence of obesity in men (6.5%) and waist-to-hip ratio the lowest prevalence (3.2%). Among women, using waist-to-hip ratio and waist circumference yielded the highest prevalence of obesity (28%) and body mass index the lowest (19.5%). There was a trend towards an increase in age-adjusted odd ratios of being overweight or obese with duration of education in both sexes.

Conclusion

The study provides current data on anthropometric measurements and obesity in urban Cameroonian populations, and found high prevalences of overweight and obesity particularly over 35 years of age, and among women. Prevalence varied according to the measure used. Our findings highlight the need to carry out further studies in Cameroonian and other Sub-Saharan African populations to provide appropriate cut-off points for the identification of people at risk of obesity-related disorders, and indicate the need to implement interventions to reverse increasing levels of obesity.