BACKGROUND: Targeted public health response to obesity in Nigeria is relatively low due to limited epidemiologic understanding. We aimed to estimate nationwide and sub-national prevalence of overweight and obesity in the adult Nigerian population.
METHODS: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Global Health, and Africa Journals Online were systematically searched for relevant epidemiologic studies in Nigeria published on or after 01 January 1990. We assessed quality of studies and conducted a random-effects meta-analysis on extracted crude prevalence rates. Using a meta-regression model, we estimated the number of overweight and obese persons in Nigeria in the year 2020.
RESULTS: From 35 studies (n = 52,816), the pooled crude prevalence rates of overweight and obesity in Nigeria were 25.0% (95% confidence interval, CI: 20.4-29.6) and 14.3% (95% CI: 12.0-15.5), respectively. The prevalence in women was higher compared to men at 25.5% (95% CI: 17.1-34.0) versus 25.2% (95% CI: 18.0-32.4) for overweight, and 19.8% (95% CI: 3.9-25.6) versus 12.9% (95% CI: 9.1-16.7) for obesity, respectively. The pooled mean body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were 25.6 kg/m2 and 86.5 cm, respectively. We estimated that there were 21 million and 12 million overweight and obese persons in the Nigerian population aged 15 years or more in 2020, accounting for an age-adjusted prevalence of 20.3% and 11.6%, respectively. The prevalence rates of overweight and obesity were consistently higher among urban dwellers (27.2% and 14.4%) compared to rural dwellers (16.4% and 12.1%).
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest a high prevalence of overweight and obesity in Nigeria. This is marked in urban Nigeria and among women, which may in part be due to widespread sedentary lifestyles and a surge in processed food outlets, largely reflective of a trend across many African settings.KEY MESSAGESAbout 12 million persons in Nigeria were estimated to be obese in 2020, with prevalence considerably higher among women. Nutritional and epidemiological transitions driven by demographic changes, rising income, urbanization, unhealthy lifestyles, and consumption of highly processed diets appear to be driving an obesity epidemic in the country.