Four-year trends in adiposity and its association with hypertension in serial groups of young adult university students in urban Cameroon: a time-series study

Abstract Background Obesity is a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and is growing rapidly globally including in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We aimed to assess the trend in adiposity markers in Cameroonian university students, and investigated their associations with hypertension. Methods From 2009 to 2012, we annually measured weight, height, blood pressure, waist (WC) and hip circumferences, and calculated the body mass index (BMI) and other indices of adiposity in consecutive students aged 18 years or above, during their registration. Time-trends in prevalence of overweight and obesity were estimated, and their associations with prevalent hypertension investigated. Results Among the 2726 participants, the overall prevalence of obesity, overweight and obesity combined, and hypertension was 3.5%, 21.0% and 6.3% respectively. From 2009 to 2012, the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased in men only, from 13.1% to 20.9% (p-trend = 0.002), whereas prevalent abdominal obesity increased in women only, from 6.5% to 11.7% (p-trend = 0.027). The BMI and the WC were independent predictors of hypertension; each kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 11% higher odds of hypertension, and each centimeter higher WC was associated with 9% higher odds of hypertension. Conclusion Our results show that overweight and obesity are rapidly increasing in this population of young sub-Saharan African adults, and are contributing to an increasing burden of hypertension.