|dc.description.abstract||Introduction: The prevalence of obesity in South Africa and throughout the world
is increasing. Obesity is related to hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes,
dyslipidemia and other sub-clinical conditions.
Aim: To establish the prevalence of obesity and related risk factors among
nurses in a public health hospital in KwaZulu-Natal.
Methods: The design entailed a cross-sectional survey among 250 randomly
selected nurses (22-64 years) working in King Edward Hospital (KZN). Obesity was
measured using anthropometric and derived parameters of stature, body mass,
body mass index (BMI) and waist to hip ratios (WHR). Related risks were
determined using a screening questionnaire.
Results: The mean body mass and BMI observed was 84.42 ± 17.49 kg and
32.60± 6.34 kg/m2, respectively with 76.10% of the sample being overweight or
obese (64.80%; BMI~30). The mean waist circumference (93.01±12.73 cm) fell
into the high risk category. A large proportion (30.4%) reported experiencing
lower back pain. A significant crude odds ratio (OR) was found between obesity
and the risk for lower back pain with an OR of 2.53 (CI 1.12 - 5.71). An
increased but insignificant risk was observed in obese individuals for
hypertension (OR 1.85: CI 0.63 - 5.40). Stressed individuals (PSS> 13) had an
increased but insignificant risk for obesity (OR 1.78: CI 0.70 - 4.50) but a
significantly increased risk for lower back pain (OR 8.59: CI 2.00-36.85; p:S0.05).
Only 79 of the 250 nurses (31.6%) from our sample reported doing vigorous
exercises on a regular basis and the nature of their exercise programs did not
protect against the risk of obesity (OR 2.18: CI 1.03-4.60; p:S0.05).
Discussion and Conclusion: A high prevalence of obesity and related risk
factors among this population of nurses in a public hospital, and potentially in the
nursing occupation at large, should be addressed within the context of employee
wellbeing. The need for education on appropriate diet and exercise programming
in order to prevent hypokinesis and associated diseases of lifestyle is evident.
Key words: Nurses, Body Mass Index, Obesity, Low Back Pain, Hypertension,