The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of multiple micronutrient deficiencies in overweight or obesity in low-income peri-urban women in South Africa.
This was a cross-sectional, observational baseline survey in 270 randomly selected households with 84 women meeting the inclusion criteria for this study. Measurements included socio-economic, dietary intake, weight, height, biochemical and haematological parameters. Measured Body Mass Index (BMI) was used to categorize the respondents into normal weight, overweight and obese groups. Descriptive statistics were determined for the different BMI groups (means and standard deviations [SDs] for the normally distributed data and medians for the non-normally distributed data), and a two-tailed independent t-test was conducted to determine significant differences (p<0.05) between the groups.
The majority of the women were overweight (28%) and obese (55%) and 21% had a folate deficiency and 7% had a vitamin B12 deficiency. Normal iron status was present in 58% of the respondents, but 15% was classified as iron depleted, 9% iron deficient and 13% iron deficient anaemic. The double burden of disease prevalence was observed as follows: 9% iron deficiency, 14% folate deficiency and 5% vitamin B12 deficiency combined with overweight and/or obesity respectively.
A co-existence of over-nutrition and poor micronutrient status was observed in these low-income, food insecure women. Further research is needed to explore the potential cause and effect mechanisms for the double burden in order to plan appropriate interventions in this group of women.