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Prevalence and Determinants of Overweight and Obesity in Thai Adults: Results of the Second National Health Examination Survey


Wichai Aekplakorn MD, PhD*,
Yongyuth Chaiyapong PhD**, Bruce Neal MB, ChB, MRCP, PhD***,
Suwat Chariyalertsak MD, PhD****, Chaiyos Kunanusont MD, PhD*****,
Wiput Phoolcharoen MD, MPH******, Paibul Suriyawongpaisal MD, MPH*
* Community Medicine Center, Faculty of Medicine, Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University
** Faculty of Commerce & Accounting, Chulalongkorn University
*** Institute for International Health, University of Sydney, NSW 2042 Australia
**** Community Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University
***** United Nations Population Fund, Country Technical Services Team for East and South-East Asia
****** Health System Research Institute, Nonthaburi Province


To describe the prevalence of overweight and obesity and examine their relationship with sociodemographic
factors in Thai adults. Using data from a cross-sectional survey, the National Health Examination
Survey II (NHESII), the authors examined the prevalence of overweight (BMI > 25 kg /m2) and obesity (BMI
> 30 kg /m2) in 3,220 Thai adults aged 20-59 yr. Univariate analyses and Logistic regression models were
used to examine the association of overweight and obesity with socio-demographic and behavioral risk
factors. The overall age-adjusted prevalence of overweight and obesity were 28.3 % and 6.8% respectively,
with a higher prevalence for women than for men (overweight : 33.9% vs 19.2% and obesity : 8.8% vs 3.5%).
The prevalence of overweight and obesity was greater among older compared to younger people and among
residents of urban (34.8% and 9.9%) compared to rural areas (26.4% and 5.9%). The prevalence of overweight
and obesity varied by region in line with the level of economic development - Bangkok, Central, North,
South and North-East. By using logistic regression analysis, overweight was associated with a number of
characteristics as follows: age (per ten years increase) with adjusted Odds Ratio (OR) of 1.3; women 1.4;
married 2.2; being a current smoker 0.4, and living in Bangkok and the central region 1.6 (compare to
North-East). There was no clear difference in prevalence of overweight and obesity among education levels
and type of occupation after controlling for other covariates. In conclusion, women of middle age, married,
and living in Bangkok and the Central region, are at greater risk of overweight and obesity. Without
effective lifestyle modification programs to curb these physiologic risk factors at population level, it is likely
that related disease burden will ensue. Public health surveillance and intervention to modify the risk
factors of excessive weight should be implemented.

Keyword : BMI, Overweight, Obesity, Thai, Adults

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