Knowledge and Perceptions on Overweight and Obesity among Adults in Same District, Tanzania

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Emanuela Selestine Massawe
Safiness Simon Msollo

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Abstract

Overweight and obesity are nutritional problems requiring great attention in both developed and developing countries where nutrition knowledge is confined to few people allied with health sectors. A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess knowledge and perception about overweight and obesity among 362 adults aged 25-55 years in Same District, Kilimanjaro Region. This age group comprises active people at higher risk of non-communicable diseases, and much of the effects may not be due to aging.  A structured questionnaire was administered through a face-to-face interview to obtain demographic characteristics, nutrition knowledge and perception about overweight and obesity. Standard WHO Anthropometric procedure of weight and height measurement was used to obtain Body Mass Index (BMI) which was categorized as normal (18.5-24.9kg/m2), overweight (25-29.9kg/m2) and obesity (≥30 kg/m2). A high prevalence of overweight (23%) and obesity (17%) was observed among adults. Women were more overweight (28%) and obese (23%) as compared to men (14%) and (6%) respectively. About 80% perceived their body weight as being normal but in reality, only 51% were confirmed to be normal. Also, 22% of overweight respondents perceived their body weight as normal and 10.5% of obese people perceived their BMI as being overweight. Nevertheless, 60% perceived an obese person as healthy and rich and 26% perceived a thin person as poor and unhealthy because they associated thinness with illness such as HIV/AIDS. Obesity was significantly related to income, sex, parity of the mother, education levels, perception and employment status at P<0.005. The high prevalence of overweight and obesity, lack of nutrition knowledge and poor perception about body weight may increase the risks of developing non-communicable diseases. Hence, these findings will assist health-related stakeholders to design appropriate interventions to reduce the problems.

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