Body Composition, Chronic Disease Risk and Physical Activity Levels of Urban and Rural Women in Selected Zimbabwean Communities

  •  Sinikiwe Mhlanga    
  •  Takshita Sookan    


BACKGROUND: Maintaining a physically active lifestyle helps to keep a healthy weight and lowers the risks of chronic diseases. The aim of this study was to determine and compare body composition, chronic disease risk and physical activity levels of rural and urban women in selected Zimbabwean communities.

METHOD: The study followed a descriptive, comparative, and cross sectional design. A sample size of 280 women aged 18 to 60 years volunteered to participate. Anthropometric variables, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol were measured using standard protocols. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and a Nutritional Questionnaires were self-administered. Routine descriptive statistics, independent t-tests and Chi-square tests were used and the significance was set at p≤0.05.

RESULTS: A significant difference between urban and rural women with regards to Body Mass Index (BMI) p=0.009 (mean difference 1.62; 95% CI), Waist-Hip Ratio (WHR) p=0.003 (mean difference 0.02; 95%CI) was noted. Regarding chronic disease risk, urban women were classified as high and very high risk compared to rural women, p=0.019. With regard to the IPAQ there were significant differences in the transport domain, p=0.046, domestic domain p=0.02 and leisure domain p=0.020 between urban and rural women.

CONCLUSION: The study indicated an increase in prevalence of overweight and obesity with increased chronic disease risk in urban women compared to rural women. Both urban and rural women showed high levels of physical activity.

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