DESK REVIEWS | The proportion of the population considered to be obese?

DESK REVIEW | The proportion of the population considered to be obese?

According to data from Vigitel 2018 (Surveillance System of Risk and Protection Factors for Chronic Diseases by Telephone Survey), 19.8% of adults were obese (with the body mass index greater than or equals to 30Kg/m2). This rate is slightly higher among women (20.7%) than men (18.7%). The proportion of obesity among adults increased with age up to 44 years for men (25.8%) and up to 64 years for women (27.7%). In both sexes, the frequency of obesity decreased with increased education, notably for women (Brazilian Ministry of Health, 2018h).


Brazilian Ministry of Health. (2018h). Vigitel Brasil 2018: Vigilância dos fatores de risco e proteção para doenças crônicas por inquérito telefônico.

The  ICMR-INDIAB 2015 study examining prevalence of obesity across 3 states (Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand) and one UT (Chandigarh) reported obesity and abdominal obesity prevalence in India to vary between 11.8% to 31.3% and 16.9% to 36.3% respectively (Pradeepa et al., 2015). A more recent study (Venkatrao et al., 2021) examining data of around 1 lakh participants from phase 1 of a nationwide randomised cluster survey (Niyantrita Madhumeha Bharata), revealed the overall prevalence of obesity to be 40.3% in India, with wide variations across different regions of the country.


Pradeepa, R., Anjana, R. M., Joshi, S. R., Bhansali, A., Deepa, M., Joshi, P. P., & Group, the I.-I. C. S. (2015). Prevalence of generalized & abdominal obesity in urban & rural India- the ICMR – INDIAB Study (Phase-I) [ICMR – INDIAB-3]. The Indian Journal of Medical Research, 142(2), 139.

Venkatrao, M., Nagarathna, R., Majumdar, V., Patil, S. S., Rathi, S., & Nagendra, H. (2021). Prevalence of Obesity in India and Its Neurological Implications: A Multifactor Analysis of a Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study. Annals of Neurosciences, 27(3-4), 153-161.


Approximately 21.8% of the Indonesian population is considered to be obese. Obesity was defined as a Body Mass Index of 27.0 or higher (Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia, 2018).


Ministry of Health Republic of Indonesia. (2018). Riset Kesehatan Dasar 2018. Jakarta: Lembaga Penerbit Badan Penelitian dan Pengembangan Kesehatan. Available at:

According to the 2014 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (2014 KDHS), 33% of women are either overweight or obese with 10% of them being obese (Obudho et al., 2015). The focus is mostly on women and children under five with no focus on the older person or men. More recent (2016) reveal an adult prevalence rate of obesity at 7.1% (Index Mundi, 2019c).


Index Mundi. (2019c). Kenya Obesity – adult prevalence rate.

Obudho, M., Munguti, J. N., Bore, J. K., & Kakinyi, M. (2015). Kenya Demographic and Health Survey 2014. Nairobi, Kenya.

Please refer to Table 12 under part

The South African Demographic and Health survey of 2016 revealed that obesity has increased since 1998, with women having higher rates of obesity (68%) and severe obesity (i.e., 1 in 5 women with a BMI ≥35.0), compared to 31% of men being obese (StatsSA, 2017b).


StatsSA. (2017b). South Africa Demographic and Health Survey: Key Indicator Report 2016. Available from: