AIDS and Behavior

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 1972–1986 | Cite as

Body Mass Index and Waist Circumference in Patients with HIV in South Africa and Associated Socio-demographic, Health Related and Psychosocial Factors

  • Diana Huis in ’t Veld
  • Supa Pengpid
  • Robert Colebunders
  • Karl Peltzer
Original Paper


A high body mass index (BMI) and high waist circumference are important health risk factors predisposing for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases and certain cancers. Historically, underweight was a diagnostic criterion of HIV-infection. In a cross-sectional study the prevalence of BMI-categories and high waist circumference and its associated factors in patients visiting three outpatient HIV clinics in South Africa were measured with anthropometric measurements and structured questionnaires regarding socio-demographic information, quality of life (QoL), AIDS-related stigma, symptoms of depression, alcohol use, HIV related information and level of adherence to ART. The median age of the 2230 included patients was 37 years, 66.5% were women and 88.6% received antiretroviral therapy. The prevalences of overweight, obesity and high waist circumference were 29.2, 21.9 and 44.6% respectively in women and 12.4, 4.0 and 3.9% respectively in men. Underweight was found in 18.2% of men and 6.3% of women. In multinomial regression analysis compared to a normal BMI, both overweight and obesity were associated with female gender, with being married or cohabiting and with a higher QoL score. Underweight was associated with male gender and tobacco use and negatively associated with being married or cohabiting and the physical domain of the QoL measure. A high waist circumference in men was associated with higher age and negatively associated with tobacco use and stigma score. In women it was negatively associated with never being married. A high prevalence of overweight and obesity was observed in HIV-clinics in South Africa, mainly in women. Since overweight and obesity are important health risk factors, effective weight reduction interventions are desirable.


HIV BMI South Africa Psychosocial socio-demographic health related factors 



This study was funded by ABMRF, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and the Directorate Generale for Development Cooperation through the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UOS).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Epidemiology and Social MedicineUniversity of AntwerpAntwerpBelgium
  2. 2.FWO Research Foundation FlandersBrusselsBelgium
  3. 3.Department of Clinical SciencesInstitute of Tropical MedicineAntwerpBelgium
  4. 4.ASEAN Institute for Health DevelopmentMahidol UniversityNakhonpathomThailand
  5. 5.Department of Research and InnovationUniversity of LimpopoSovengaSouth Africa
  6. 6.HIV/AIDS, STIs & TB (HAST) Research ProgrammeHuman Sciences Research CouncilPretoriaSouth Africa
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LimpopoSovengaSouth Africa
  8. 8.Algemeen inwendige geneeskundeGhentBelgium

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