INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH, vol.11, no.7, pp.7425-7441, 2014 (SCI-Expanded)
Obesity among young people increases lifetime cardiovascular risk. This study assesses the prevalence of overweight/obesity and its associated factors among a random sample of university students from 22 universities in 22 low, middle income and emerging economy countries. This cross-sectional survey comprised of a self-administered questionnaire and collected anthropometric measurements. The study population was 6773 (43.2%) males and 8913 (56.8%) females, aged 16 to 30 years (mean 20.8 years, SD = 2.6). Body mass index (BMI) was used for weight status. Among men, the prevalence of underweight was 10.8%, normal weight 64.4%, overweight 18.9% and obesity 5.8%, while among women, the prevalence of underweight was 17.6%, normal weight 62.1%, overweight 14.1% and obesity 5.2%. Overall, 22% were overweight or obese (24.7% men and 19.3% women). In multivariate regression among men, younger age, coming from a higher income country, consciously avoiding fat and cholesterol, physically inactivity, current tobacco use and childhood physical abuse, and among women older age, coming from a higher income country, frequent organized religious activity, avoiding fat and cholesterol, posttraumatic stress symptoms and physical childhood abuse were associated overweight or obesity. Several gender specific risk factors identified can be utilized in health promotion programmes.