Socio-cultural, environmental and behavioural determinants of obesity in black South African women

MRC/Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Cardiovascular journal of Africa 09/2013; 24(9):1-7. DOI: 10.5830/CVJA-2013-069
Source: PubMed


South Africa (SA) is undergoing a rapid epidemiological transition and has the highest prevalence of obesity in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with black women being the most affected (obesity prevalence 31.8%). Although genetic factors are important, socio-cultural, environmental and behavioural factors, as well as the influence of socio-economic status, more likely explain the high prevalence of obesity in black SA women. This review examines these determinants in black SA women, and compares them to their white counterparts, black SA men, and where appropriate, to women from SSA. Specifically this review focuses on environmental factors influencing obesity, the influence of urbanisation, as well as the interaction with socio-cultural and socio-economic factors. In addition, the role of maternal and early life factors and cultural aspects relating to body image are discussed. This information can be used to guide public health interventions aimed at reducing obesity in black SA women.

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Available from: David John Hume, Apr 02, 2014
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    • "A study from the South African Comparative Risk Assessment Collaborating Group has shown that in adult South African women, an estimated 27.7% of colon cancer, 22.7% of ischaemic strokes, 20.1% of type 2 diabetes mellitus, 30.5% of ischaemic heart disease, and 16.5% of female breast cancer are attributed to inactivity [8]. Black women in South Africa have the highest prevalence of obesity [9], which may partly be influenced by socioeconomic status [10], but may also be related to physical activity since it has been observed that black females in South Africa have significantly less total energy expenditure than white women [11]. Urban dwelling black South African females have recently been confirmed to be less physically active than rural women who usually accumulate higher levels of physical activity by participating in subsistence related activity and walking [12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Urban black South African women have a high prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The aim of this study was to assess the physical activity patterns of a cohort of middle-aged urban-dwelling black African women and to determine if physical activity is associated with anthropometric measures and metabolic outcomes in this population. Physical activity and sitting time were assessed using the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) in a cross-sectional study of 977 black African women (mean age 41.0 ± 7.84 years) from the Birth to Twenty study based in Soweto, Johannesburg. Anthropometric outcomes were measured and fasting blood glucose, insulin and lipid profile were analysed to determine metabolic disease risk and prevalence. Sixty-seven percent of the population were classified as active according to GPAQ criteria, and the domain that contributed most to overall weekly physical activity was walking for travel. Only 45.0% of women participated in leisure time activity. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in this sample was 40.0%, and the prevalence of overweight and obesity was 29.2% and 48.0%, respectively. Women who reported owning a motor vehicle walked for travel less, and participated in more leisure-time activity (both p < 0.01), while women who owned a television reported significantly lower moderate-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), and walking for travel (both p < 0.01). Sitting time (mins/wk) was not different between the activity groups, but was associated with triglycerides and diastolic blood pressure. Total physical activity was inversely associated with fasting insulin, and physical activity in the work domain was associated with fat free soft tissue mass. The findings of this study show that the majority of urban dwelling black South African women are classified as physically active despite a high prevalence of obesity and metabolic disease risk factors. Sitting time had detrimental effects on both triglyceride levels and diastolic blood pressure whilst total physical activity attenuated fasting insulin levels. As walking for travel is a major contributor to physical activity, future research should attempt to determine whether the intensity of this activity plays a role in the prevention of cardiometabolic diseases.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Regarding determinants of obesity, a complex array of socio-cultural and environmental factors has been associated with obesity in black SA women [42], and a higher tolerance of a larger body size amongst black girls [43-45] has been linked to social and cultural norms [46]. In terms of family influences, an authoritative parenting style has been associated with lower levels of obesity [47]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Background South Africa (SA) is undergoing multiple transitions with an increasing burden of non-communicable diseases and high levels of overweight and obesity in adolescent girls and women. Adolescence is key to addressing trans-generational risk and a window of opportunity to intervene and positively impact on individuals’ health trajectories into adulthood. Using Intervention Mapping (IM), this paper describes the development of the Ntshembo intervention, which is intended to improve the health and well-being of adolescent girls in order to limit the inter-generational transfer of risk of metabolic disease, in particular diabetes risk. Methods This paper describes the application of the first four steps of IM. Evidence is provided to support the selection of four key behavioural objectives: viz. to eat a healthy, balanced diet, increase physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviour, and promote reproductive health. Appropriate behaviour change techniques are suggested and a theoretical framework outlining components of relevant behaviour change theories is presented. It is proposed that the Ntshembo intervention will be community-based, including specialist adolescent community health workers who will deliver a complex intervention comprising of individual, peer, family and community mobilisation components. Conclusions The Ntshembo intervention is novel, both in SA and globally, as it is: (1) based on strong evidence, extensive formative work and best practice from evaluated interventions; (2) combines theory with evidence to inform intervention components; (3) includes multiple domains of influence (community through to the individual); (4) focuses on an at-risk target group; and (5) embeds within existing and planned health service priorities in SA.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2014 · BMC Public Health
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    ABSTRACT: In recent years, there has been a dramatic increase in obesity in low and middle income countries. However, there is limited research in these countries showing the prevalence and determinants of obesity. In this study, we examine the socioeconomic inequalities in obesity among South African adults. We use nationally representative data from the South Africa National Income Dynamic Survey of 2008 to: (1) construct an asset index using multiple correspondence analyses (MCA) as a proxy for socioeconomic status; (2) estimate concentration indices (CI) to measure socioeconomic inequalities in obesity; and (3) perform a decomposition analysis to determine the factors that contribute to socioeconomic related inequalities. Consistent with other studies, we find that women are more obese than men. The findings show that obesity inequalities exist in South Africa. Rich men are more likely to be obese than their poorer counterparts with a concentration index of 0.27. Women on the other hand have similar obesity patterns, regardless of socioeconomic status with CI of 0.07. The results of the decomposition analysis suggest that asset index contributes positively and highly to socio-economic inequality in obesity among females; physical exercise contributes negatively to the socio-economic inequality. In the case of males, educational attainment and asset index contributed more to socio-economic inequalities in obesity. Our findings suggest that focusing on economically well-off men and all women across socioeconomic status is one way to address the obesity problem in South Africa.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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