Increasing obesity in treated female HIV patients from Sub-Saharan Africa: Potential causes and possible targets for intervention

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Objectives: To investigate changing nutritional demographics of treated HIV-1-infected patients and explore causes of obesity, particularly in women of African origin. Methods: We prospectively reviewed nutritional demographics of clinic attenders at an urban European HIV clinic during four one-month periods at three-yearly intervals (2001, 2004, 2007, and 2010) and in two consecutive whole-year reviews (2010-2011 and 2011-2012). Risk-factors for obesity were assessed by multiple linear regression. A sub-study of 50 HIV-positive African female patients investigated body-size/shape perception using numerical, verbal, and pictorial cues. Results: We found a dramatic rise in the prevalence of obesity (BMI > 30 kg/m2), from 8.5 (2001) to 28% (2011-2012) for all clinic attenders, of whom 86% were on antiretroviral treatment. Women of African origin were most affected, 49% being obese, with a further 32% overweight (BMI 25-30 kg/m2) in 2012. Clinical factors strongly associated with obesity included female gender, black African ethnicity, non-smoking, age, and CD4 count (all P < 0.001); greater duration of cART did not predict obesity. Individual weight-time trends mostly showed slow long-term progressive weight gain. Investigating body-weight perception, we found that weight and adiposity were underestimated by obese subjects, who showed a greater disparity between perceived and actual adiposity (P < 0.001). Obese subjects targeted more obese target "ideal" body shapes (P < 0.01), but were less satisfied with their body shape overall (P = 0.02). Conclusion: Seropositive African women on antiretroviral treatment are at heightened risk of obesity. Although multifactorial, body-weight perception represents a potential target for intervention.




McCormick, C. L., Francis, A. M., Iliffe, K., Webb, H., Douch, C. J., Pakianathan, M., & Macallan, D. C. (2014). Increasing obesity in treated female HIV patients from Sub-Saharan Africa: Potential causes and possible targets for intervention. Frontiers in Immunology, 5(NOV).

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