Trends in overweight by educational level in 33 low- and middle-income countries: the role of parity, age at first birth and breastfeeding

Authors

  • S. Lopez-Arana,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • A. Burdorf,

    1. Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • M. Avendano

    1. Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
    2. London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Health and Social Care, London, UK
    3. Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
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Address for correspondence: Ms S Lopez-Arana, Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC, PO Box 2040, Rotterdam 3015 GE, The Netherlands.E-mail: s.lopezarana@erasmusmc.nl

Summary

This study examined trends in overweight among women of reproductive age by educational level in 33 low- and middle-income countries, and estimated the contribution of parity, age at first birth and breastfeeding to these trends. We used repeated cross-sectional Demographic Health Surveys of 255,828 women aged 25–49 years interviewed between 1992 and 2009. We applied logistic regression to model overweight (>25 kg m−2) as a function of education, reproductive variables and time period by country and region. The prevalence of overweight ranged from 3.4% in South and Southeast Asia to 73.7% in North Africa West/Central Asia during the study period. The association between education and overweight differed across regions. In North Africa West/Central Asia and Latin American, lower education was associated with higher overweight prevalence, while the inverse was true in South/Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. In all regions, there was a consistent pattern of increasing overweight trends across all educational groups. Older age at first birth, longer breastfeeding and lower parity were associated with less overweight, for differences by educational level in overweight prevalence and trends.

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