Prevalence of Obesity among Displaced Populations after Exposure to Humanitarian Crises: A Systematic Review Open Access

Hogsett, Mary (Spring 2022)

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Globally, it is estimated that 39% of adults have overweight or obesity. Most estimates fail to account for the prevalence of obesity among displaced populations, especially internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. We summarized the current knowledge of overweight and obesity prevalence among displaced populations and evaluated if subsets of these populations are at increased risk for obesity when compared with local residents and immigrant counterparts. A systematic search was conducted on PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science to identify English-language peer-reviewed observational studies published through November 2021. Studies were included if they examined the weight status of displaced populations following humanitarian emergencies and reported overweight and obesity rates. There were no exclusionary criteria for age, gender, country of origin, or resettlement status. A total of 1205 unique studies were identified on PubMed, EMBASE, and Web of Science after deduplication. After following PRISMA guidelines, 80 studies met inclusion criteria. There was great heterogeneity among the studies selected and the displaced populations. These studies were organized into three categories based on residency status. It was found that some populations had higher than 30% of adults having obesity before resettlement and at the time of entrance exams. When compared with adult men, rates of obesity were higher among adult women and higher in older than younger individuals. Adult populations did not show clear increases in overweight or obesity prevalence after resettlement, but when comparing different studies, children (2-18 years of age) increased from 10.2% to 19% in prevalence of obesity after resettlement. Comparing to non-refugee populations had mixed results, but obesity rates were slightly lower among displaced populations when compared to non-refugee controls after resettlement. Overall findings suggest that obesity is an issue displaced population face before resettlement and does not always arise afterwards. While nutrition interventions have been implemented to improve the nutrition needs of displaced populations, most of these efforts have focused on underweight risks. Nutrition efforts need to expand to prevent the development of obesity, particularly among displaced populations before resettlement.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Methods 3

Search Strategy 3

Inclusion & Exclusion Criteria 4

Manuscript Selection 5

Overweight and Obesity Prevalence 5

Figure 1 6

Results 7

Table 1 9

Prevalence of obesity by age and resettlement status 10

Table 2 11

Prevalence of obesity by sex and resettlement status 13

Table 3 14

Prevalence of obesity among displaced populations in comparison with non-displaced populations 15

Table 4 16

Differences in prevalence of obesity with changes in resettlement status 18

Discussion 18

References 25

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