OBJECTIVES: We aimed to estimate the prevalence of overweight and obesity, represented by extra body weight and abdominal circumference, among older Indians; and to characterise the social pattern of obesity and measure the magnitude of hypertension attributable to it.
SETTING: A nationally representative sample of older Indians was selected from 6 Indian states, including Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Maharashtra and Karnataka, as a part of the multicountry Study on global AGEing and adult health (SAGE).
PARTICIPANTS: Indians aged 50 years or more (n=7273) were included in the first wave of the SAGE (2010), which we used in our study.
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOME MEASURES: The primary outcome measures included excess weight (EW), defined by body mass index (BMI) >25 kg/m(2), and central adiposity (CA), defined by waist circumference >90 cm for men and >80 cm for women. The secondary outcome included hypertension, defined by systolic blood pressure >139 or diastolic blood pressure >79 mm Hg, or by those receiving antihypertensive medications.
RESULTS: 14% of older Indians possessed EW, whereas 35% possessed CA; 50.9% of the wealthier third and 27.7% of the poorer two-thirds have CA; the proportions being 69.1% and 46.2%, respectively, in older women. Mostly wealth (adjusted OR for CA: 4.36 (3.23 to 5.95) and EW: 4.39 (3.49 to 5.53)), but also urban residence, privileged caste, higher education, white-collared occupation and female gender, were important determinants. One of 17 older Indians overall and 1 of 18 in the poorer 70% suffered from CA-driven hypertension, independent of BMI.
CONCLUSIONS: The problem of CA and its allied diseases is already substantial and expected to rise across all socioeconomic strata of older Indians, though currently, CA affects the privileged more than the underprivileged, in later life. Population-based promotion of appropriate lifestyles, with special emphasis on women, is required to counteract prosperity-driven obesity before it becomes too entrenched and expensive to uproot.
- PUBLIC HEALTH
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