Trends of under- and overweight among rural and urban poor women indicate the double burden of malnutrition in Bangladesh

Sohana Shafique, Nasima Akhter, Gudrun Stallkamp, Saskia de Pee, Dora Panagides, Martin W. Bloem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although undernutrition and communicable diseases dominate the current disease burden in resource-poor countries, the prevalence of diet related chronic diseases is increasing. This paper explores current trends of under- and overweight in Bangladeshi women. Method: Nationally representative data on reproductive age women from rural Bangladesh (n = 242433) and selected urban poor areas (n = 39749) collected by the Nutritional Surveillance Project during 2000-2004 were analyzed. Results: While the prevalence of chronic energy deficiency [CED, body mass index (BMI) <18.5 kg/m2] continues to be major nutritional problem among Bangladeshi women (38.8% rural, 29.7% urban poor; P<0.001), between 2000-2004, 9.1% of urban poor and 4.1% of rural women were overweight (BMI-25 kg/m2, P<0.001). In addition, 9.8% of urban poor and 5.5% of rural women were found to be 'at risk of overweight' (BMI 23.0-<25 kg/m2). From 2000 to 2004, prevalence of CED decreased (urban poor: 3.8-29.3%; rural: 42.6-36.6%), while prevalence of overweight increased (urban poor: .8-9.1%; rural: 2.8-5.5%). The risk of being overweight was higher among women who were older and of higher socioeconomic status. Rural women with at least 14 years of education had a 8.1-fold increased risk of being overweight compared with non-educated women [95% confidence intervals (CI): 6.6-8.7]. Women living in houses of at least 1000 sqft (93 m2) were 3.7 times more likely to be overweight compared with women living in <250 sqft (23m2) houses (95% CI: 3.2-4.3). Conclusion: The recent increase in overweight prevalence among both urban poor and rural women, along with high prevalence of CED, indicates the emergence of a double burden of malnutrition in Bangladesh.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)449-457
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of epidemiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2007


  • Anthropometry
  • Chronic energy deficiency
  • Developing countries
  • Overweight
  • Socioeconomic status

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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