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Anecdotal evidence concerning the prevalence of abdominal obesity (AO) among nurses in South Africa is alarming; however, no scientific study has confirmed this notion. The purpose of this study was to determine AO, using proxy measures of waist circumference (WC), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and waist-to-height ratio (WHtR) among nurses in Vhembe and Capricorn districts, Limpopo, South Africa. The study involved a purposive sample of 153 practising nurses aged 19 to 50+ years. Height, weight, waist and hip circumferences were measured and participation in physical activity was assessed by report. Cut-off points for abdominal obesity were: WC= ≥102 cm (men) and ≥88 cm (women); WHR = ≥0.9 (men) and ≥0.8 (women) and WHtR= ≥0.5. The prevalence of AO was 68.2%, 80.5%, 56.5% according to WC, WHR and WHtR, respectively. Among the males nurses, AO were: WC (18.8%), WHR (37.0%), and WHtR (%) while corresponding figures for females nurses were WC (49.4%), WHR (43.5%), WHtR (0.0%). Female nurses had significantly ( X 2 =2.2 03, p = 0.003) higher prevalence of AO compared to the male nurses. The prevalence of AO (WHR, WHtR) increased with age, peaking at ages 40-49 for both sexes, while WC measured obesity showed a similar pattern but peaks at age 50+ among the male nurses. Majority of the nurses decline participating in physical activity. There is high prevalence of AO among nurses in this region, a rate comparable to the general population in South Africa. Future studies identifying risk factors for prevalence of AO in nurses are warranted.
Abdominal obesity, anthropometric indices, nurses, South Africa