Social and psychological predictors of body mass index among South Africans 15 years and older: Sanhanes-1
Mchiza, Zandile June-Rose
Hossin, Muhammad Zakir
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This study investigated how psychological distress and the proxies for social position combine to influence the risk of both underweight and overweight in South Africans aged 15 years and older. This was a cross-sectional study that included 2254 men and 4170 women participating in the first South African National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (SANHANES-1). An analysis exploring the associations of social and mental health characteristics with body mass index (BMI) was conducted using binary and multinomial logistic regressions. Results suggested that, overall, women had a higher risk of overweight/obesity compared to men (age-adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 4.65; 95% confidence intervals [CI] 3.94–5.50). The gender effect on BMI was smaller in non-African participants (AOR 3.02; 95% CI 2.41–3.79; p-value for interaction = 0.004). Being employed and having a higher level of education were associated with higher risks of overweight and obesity and a lower risk of underweight. Being single or without a spouse and poor mental health were found to increase the odds of being underweight, especially in men. To conclude, there are strong social gradients and important gender and ethnic differences in how BMI is distributed in the South African population.