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Descriptive epidemiology of body mass index of an urban adult population in western India
  1. H C Shukla1,
  2. P C Gupta2,
  3. H C Mehta2,
  4. J R Hebert3
  1. 1Biomedical Sciences, University of Westminster, London, UK
  2. 2Epidemiology Research Unit, TATA Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, India
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Heema Shukla, University of Westminster, Room 514, 9–18 Euston, Centre, London NW1 3ET, UK;


Study objective: To describe height, weight, and body mass index (BMI) of the adult urban population in Mumbai, western India and to estimate the prevalence and severity of thinness and overweight in this population. To describe the association of BMI with education, age, and tobacco habits in an urban Indian population.

Design: Cross sectional representative survey of 99 598 adults (40 071 men and 59 527 women).

Setting: The survey was carried out in the city of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) in western India.

Participants: Men and women aged ≥35 years who were residents of the main city of Mumbai.

Main results: The mean height, weight, and BMI were 161.0 (SD 6.7) cm, 56.7 (SD 11.0) kg, and 21.8 (SD 3.8) kg/m2 for men and 148.0 (SD 6.2) cm, 49.8 (SD 11.2) kg, and 22.7 (SD 4.7) kg/m2 for women, respectively. Some 19% of men and women were thin (BMI<18.5 kg/m2), while 19% of men and 30% of women were overweight (BMI≥25kg/m2). Multivariable logistic regression analyses showed that age, level of education, and tobacco use were independently associated with BMI. The odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for thinness (BMI<18.5 kg/m2) were OR 6.52, 95%CI 5.38 to 7.89 for men and OR 4.83, 95%CI 3.71 to 6.28 for women, respectively, (p<0.001) for the lowest level of education (illiterate group). The OR and 95%CI for overweight were 2.25, 2.20 to 2.58 for college educated men and 1.90, 1.64 to 2.20 for college educated women, respectively, p<0.001. Both smoking (2.33, 2.09 to 2.59; 2.89, 1.77 to 4.72 for men and women, respectively, p<0.001) and smokeless tobacco use (1.65, 1.52 to 1.80; 2.26, 2.14 to 2.38 for men and women, respectively p<0.0001) were significantly associated with low BMI.

Conclusions: Sequelae of thinness and overweight represent major public health problems. The results of this study, indicating an equal prevalence of thinness and overweight in an urban area and their association with age, level of education, and tobacco use raise concerns of an emerging public health crisis in urban India.

  • body mass index
  • BMI, body mass index
  • CED, chronic energy deficiency

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  • Funding: This study was conducted in collaboration with the International Agency for Research on Cancer, France, (Collaborative Research Agreement No.DEP/89/12), the ICRF/MRC Clinical Trial Service Unit, University of Oxford, UK, the World Bank, Washington DC and the World Health Organisation, Geneva and they all provided part funding for the study.

  • Conflicts of interest: none

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