Objective: Obesity, a global epidemic and risk factor for many noncommunicable diseases, has become a public health concern in South Africa, especially in the elderly. This study investigated the trend of development of obesity in a group of urban elderly individuals from 2007-2011. Design: This was a cross-sectional or cohort design. Setting and subjects: The study took place in Sharpeville, Gauteng, on 208 purposively selected elderly individuals aged 60-104 years. Outcome measures: Measurements included anthropometric variables, i.e. weight, height and waist circumference, measured biennially from 2007-2011 using standard techniques. Collected data were analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences®, version 20.0. Descriptive analysis was performed for the variables, as well as Student’s t-test, analysis of variance, correlation analysis and bivariate logistic regression. Results: The mean body mass index (BMI) of the elderly participants ranged from 30.7 kg/m2 in 2007 to 31.1 kg/m2 in 2011, with a slight decrease in 2009 (29.5 kg/m2) in the women, and a reduction from 27.2 kg/m2 to 24.2 kg/m2 in the men. The combined prevalence of overweight and obesity increased from 72.9% in 2007 to 83.3% in the women, whereas it decreased from 66.7% to 42.8% in the men. The prevalence of central obesity fluctuated in the women (it decreased from 84.5% in 2007 to 72.0% in 2009, and then increased to 87.0% in 2011), while it decreased consistently in the men from 46.2% in 2007 to 28.6% in 2011. Overweight and obese elderly individuals (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) were more likely to be centrally obese than those with a BMI < 25 kg/m2. Conclusion: The trend of obesity was consistently high in the study population from 2007-2011. However, a significant difference in the prevalence of total and central obesity was not noted, although it apparently increased in the women and decreased in the men. Appropriate and timely intervention is urgently required.
- Anthropometric indices