Direct and Indirect Determinants of Body Mass Index in Both Major Ethnic Groups Experiencing the Nutritional Transition in Cameroon.
In the context of rapid nutritional transitions in Africa, few studies have analyzed the etiology of obesity by considering the driver pathways that predict body mass index (BMI). The aim of this study is to innovatively identify these driver pathways, including the main sociodemographic and socioecological drivers of BMI. We conducted a rural-urban quantitative study in Cameroon (n = 1106; balanced sex ratio) to explore this issue. We recruited participants and reported several sociodemographic characteristics (e.g., marital status, socioeconomic status (SES), and ethnicity). We then assessed three main socioecological drivers of BMI (body weight perception, dietary intake, and physical activity) and conducted bioanthropometric measurements. We identified several driver pathways predicting BMI. In Cameroon, Bamiléké ethnicity, higher SES, being married, and older age had positive effects on BMI through overweight valorization and/or dietary intake. Accordingly, we found that being Bamiléké, married, and middle-aged, as well as having a higher SES, were factors that constituted at-risk subgroups overexposed to drivers of obesity. As such, this study highlights the necessity of investigating the complex driver pathways that lead to obesity. Therefore, better identification of the subgroups at risk for obesity will help in developing more targeted population health policies in countries where this burden is a major public health issue.
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