Journal of Public Health

, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 289–299

Patterns, distribution, and determinants of under- and overnutrition among women in Nigeria: a population-based analysis

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10389-009-0251-z

Cite this article as:
Uthman, O.A. J Public Health (2009) 17: 289. doi:10.1007/s10389-009-0251-z



To determine the patterns and determinants of nutritional status among women in Nigeria.


Using a body mass index (BMI) category of 18.5–24.99 kg/m2 (normal weight) as the reference, set of univariable and multivariable multinomial logistic regression models were fitted to investigate the independent association between different sociodemographic characteristics and nutritional status. Results were presented in the form of relative risk ratios (RRR) with significance levels and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).


Almost two-thirds of women had BMIs in the normal range. Of the total sample, 14.5% of subjects were classified as underweight, 14.3% as overweight and 5.5% as obese. The youngest women are the most likely subgroup to be thin; one-quarter of women aged 15–19 have a BMI of less than 18.5 kg/m2. There is significant regional variation, with the prevalence of thinness ranging from 6% in the north central area to 22% in the northeast. There was a clear socioeconomic distribution underlying patterns of nutritional status, with women in low socioeconomic positions (SEP) experiencing a greater risk of being underweight and those in high SEPs experiencing the greatest risk of being overweight and obese.


The results show that women in low SEPs are more likely to be underweight, and women in high SEPs are more likely to be obese. There is a need for public health programs to promote nutritious food and a healthy lifestyle to address both types of malnutrition at the same time. It will also be important for these programs to be age and region sensitive.


MalnutritionObesitySocioeconomic statusNigeria

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Public Health, Epidemiology and Biostatistics, The Public Health BuildingThe University of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Center for Evidence-Based Global Health, Save the Youth InitiativeIlorinNigeria