Background: Obesity among women of child-bearing age has been a public health concern in the recent past. Central obesity has been found to be rising in different countries.
Objectives: This study determined prevalence and correlates of central obesity and normal weight central obesity among postpartum women.
Study design: Randomly selected 460 postpartum women attending health facilities for vaccination/ growth monitoring of their infants in Kasarani sub-county, Nairobi County, Kenya took part in the study. BMI was used to measure overall obesity. Central obesity (CO) was assessed by waist circumference (WC), waist to hips ratio (WHR) and waist to height ratio (WHTR). National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) BMI-WC index was used to assess health risk. Bivariate analysis was used to determine correlates of central obesity.
Results: The prevalence of CO as defined by WC, WHR and WHTR were 66.3, 62.1 and 50.6% respectively. Prevalence of normal weight central obesity was 39.2, 36.5, and 34.4% by WC, WHR, and WHTR respectively. One in every three participants, 38.6%, had high or very high health risk while 15% had increased risk and 44.1% had no increased health risk. Parity and age showed significant positive association with central obesity (Age: WC r=0.156, p=<0.001; WHTR r=0.190, p=<0.001; Parity: WC r=0.0126, p=0.009; WHTR r=0.149, p=0.002).
Conclusion: Central obesity prevalence was high regardless of the measure used. About a third of the postpartum women with normal weight BMI was centrally obese and was either at high or very high health risk. Health care workers should therefore use a central obesity measure alongside BMI when assessing nutrition status in the study setting.