Double Burden of Underweight and Overweight among Women in South and Southeast Asia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Tuhin Biswas, R. J.Soares Magalhaes, Nick Townsend, Sumon Kumar Das, Abdullah Mamun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

24 Citations (SciVal)


The double burden of malnutrition (DBM) is characterized by the coexistence of underweight and overweight individuals in a population. The objective of this study was to assess the level of DBM, as well as its main determinants, in women in South and Southeast Asia. We searched scientific literature databases, including PubMed, EMBASE, CINAHL, and Google Scholar; gray literature; and reference lists from primary research published between 1969 and September 30, 2017. In total, 128 studies met our inclusion criteria, representing data of ∼5 million women >15 y of age from South and Southeast Asia. The findings show that prevalence rates of underweight and overweight varied by study from 7.0% to 61.0% and 1.0% to 64.0%, respectively. For the total study period, the pooled prevalence of underweight and overweight was 28% (95% CI: 25%, 31%) and 17% (95% CI: 15%, 19%) in South Asia, respectively, and 20% (95% CI: 15%, 26%) and 20% (95% CI: 15%, 24%) in Southeast Asia, respectively. In both regions, underweight was more prevalent in rural areas, among women of the youngest age group (15-19 y), and among those in the poorest wealth quintile. In contrast, overweight was higher in urban areas, among women of older age, and among those in the wealthiest households. This study also found that prevalence of overweight has recently exceeded that for underweight in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-143
Number of pages16
JournalAdvances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)
Issue number1
Early online date21 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020


  • double burden
  • overweight
  • Southeast Asia
  • trends
  • underweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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