Recent trends in the prevalence of under- and overweight among adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



Most studies of childhood malnutrition in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) focus on children <5 years, with few focusing on adolescence, a critical stage in development.


This study aimed to evaluate recent trends in the prevalence of under- and overweight among girls (15–18 years) in LMICs.


Data are from Demographic and Health Surveys (53 countries) and national surveys conducted in Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Brazil and Mexico. The most recent surveys with sample sizes ≥50 when stratified by rural–urban status were included: 46.6% of countries had a survey conducted in the past 5 years, while the most recent survey for 10.3% of countries was over 10 years old. The overall rural sample size was 94 857 and urban sample size was 81 025. Under- and overweight were defined using the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) sex- and age-specific body mass index cut points.


South Asia had the highest prevalence of underweight; nearly double that of East Asia and the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa, and increasing annually by 0.66% in rural areas. Latin America and the Caribbean had the highest regional prevalence of overweight in both rural and urban settings, and this prevalence is increasing annually by about 0.50%. In urban areas, 38% of countries had both an under- and overweight prevalence ≥10%.


There is substantial variation across and within regions in the burden of under- and overweight, with increasing dual burdens in urban areas. Innovative public health interventions capable of addressing both ends of the malnutrition spectrum are urgently needed.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles