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Obesity prevalence | Colombo records over 58%: GMOA

3 years ago

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By Sarah Hannan  A recent research article published in the Journal of Diabetes Research indicates an obesity prevalence rate of over 58% in urban Sri Lanka, the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) stated. Speaking to The Morning, GMOA member Dr. Saradha Kannangara noted: “The recent study conducted by Noel Somasundaram et al. funded by the Medical Research Institute (MRI) highlighted that about two-thirds of the studied urban population were overweight or obese, with the highest prevalence recorded from the age group of 41-60 years at 58.3%.” In the article published in the Journal of Diabetes Research titled “High Prevalence of Overweight/Obesity in Urban Sri Lanka: Findings from the Colombo Urban Study”, Somasundaram et al. revealed the gender, ethnic differences in obesity, and its associations with educational status, and that the interactions with metabolic comorbidities indicate these interventions may need to be targeted towards different groups in the population. When considering different age categories, the highest prevalence for obesity of 58.3% was seen in the 41-60 years group and the minimum prevalence of 43.1% among subjects older than 60 years. There was an ethnic difference in obesity rates in the current study. The prevalence of obesity was the highest among the Moor ethnicity (65.5%) followed by the Sinhalese (52.3%) and Tamils (40.2%). A similar trend was seen in the prevalence of abdominal obesity (74.4%, 56.8%, and 44.8% in Moors, Sinhalese, and Tamils, respectively). Higher prevalence of obesity was observed in the most educated group (above Advanced Level). However, abdominal obesity was higher in the least and most educated groups. In a recent systematic review on “educational attainment and obesity”, De Silva et al. reported that there is an inverse association between obesity rates and educational attainment in high-income countries, while there was a positive association between these variables in low-income countries. The finding that the abdominal obesity rates are the highest among low and highest educational levels in the study could be due to the ongoing process of nutrition transition in Sri Lanka, where there is a higher availability of energy-dense foods, with increasing sedentary behaviours, especially among “white collar” jobs. The objective of the study was to find out the prevalence of obesity in urban Sri Lanka and to identify socio-demographic factors associated with it. Adult males and females residing in an urban government division of the Colombo District in Sri Lanka were included in this study. 

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