The Factors Associated with Overweight and Obesity among Women of Reproductive Age and Children Under 5 in Cambodia


Non-communicable diseases
Women at reproductive age



Globally, overweight and obesity are among the leading risk factors for developing noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and chronic respiratory diseases. Similarly, as Cambodia has experienced rapid socioeconomic development, increasing trends of overweight and obesity among both women of reproductive age (WRA) and children aged under five years (CU5) have been observed. This study aimed to assess the contributing factors associated with overweight and obesity among WRA and CU5 in Cambodia using the South Asian cutoff.


This study employed existing data from the 2014 Cambodia Demographic Health Survey (CDHS) using two-stage cluster sampling with urban rural stratification. We analyzed the WRA data and CU5 data separately using STATA 15, accounting for the sampling weight. Bivariate analysis with chi-square tests was used to assess the potential associations between independent variables and the outcome variables (overweight and obesity). Multiple logistic regression, reporting adjusted odds ratios (AORs), was then applied to determine independent associations.


Among 10,765 WRA, the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity was 33.1% (95% CI: 31.8-34.5). WRA aged 40-49 years [AOR=3.94; 95% CI: 2.91-5.34], women with professional jobs [AOR=1.30; 95% CI: 1.10-1.53], women from affluent households [AOR=1.50, 95% CI:1.26 –1.80], and women with contraceptive use [AOR=1.25; 95% CI: 1.08-1.45] had greater odds of being overweight or obese. However, women with at least a secondary education [AOR=0.78, 95% CI: 0.64 – 0.95] or a higher education [AOR=0.64; 95% CI: 0.47-0.87] had lower odds of being overweight and obese. Among 4397 CU5, the overall prevalence was 2.0% (95% CI: 1.5-2.6). Overweight and obesity were more common in urban areas than in rural areas and higher in younger ages than 24 months, among those who reported current breastfeeding, among educated mothers, and among richer wealth quintile households than in poor quintile households.


The study revealed a relatively high prevalence of overweight and obesity among WRA using the Asian BMI cutoff but still negligence among CU5 individuals. The main predictors of overweight and obesity among WRA included older age, richer household and among contraceptive users. However, less overweight and obesity were observed among educated WRA. For CU5, urban residence, current breastfeeding and maternal education reduced the odds of overweight and obesity. Prioritizing breastfeeding and enhancing education for women and girls is crucially important. Future studies should explore factors associated with overweight and obesity among CU5 individuals in Cambodia.