Obesity risk in rural, urban and rural-to-urban migrants: Prospective results of the PERU MIGRANT study

R. M. Carrillo-Larco, A. Bernabé-Ortiz, T. D. Pillay, R. H. Gilman, J. F. Sanchez, J. A. Poterico, R. Quispe, L. Smeeth, J. J. Miranda

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66 Scopus citations


Background:Although migration and urbanization have been linked with higher obesity rates, especially in low-resource settings, prospective information about the magnitude of these effects is lacking. We estimated the risk of obesity and central obesity among rural subjects, rural-to-urban migrants and urban subjects.Methods:Prospective data from the PERU MIGRANT Study were analyzed. Baseline data were collected in 2007-2008 and participants re-contacted in 2012-2013. At follow-up, outcomes were obesity and central obesity measured by body mass index and waist circumference. At baseline, the primary exposure was demographic group: rural, rural-to-urban migrant and urban. Other exposures included an assets index and educational attainment. Cumulative incidence, incidence ratio (IR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) for obesity and central obesity were estimated with Poisson regression models.Results:At baseline, mean age (±s.d.) was 47.9 (±12.0) years, and 53.0% were females. Rural subjects comprised 20.2% of the total sample, whereas 59.7% were rural-to-urban migrants and 20.1% were urban dwellers. A total of 3598 and 2174 person-years were analyzed for obesity and central obesity outcomes, respectively. At baseline, the prevalence of obesity and central obesity was 20.0 and 52.5%. In multivariable models, migrant and urban groups had an 8-to 9.5-fold higher IR of obesity compared with the rural group (IR migrants=8.19, 95% CI=2.72-24.67; IR urban=9.51, 95% CI=2.74-33.01). For central obesity, there was a higher IR only among the migrant group (IR=1.95; 95% CI=1.22-3.13). Assets index was associated with a higher IR of central obesity (IR top versus bottom tertile 1.45, 95% CI=1.03-2.06).Conclusions:Peruvian urban individuals and rural-to-urban migrants show a higher incidence of obesity compared with their rural counterparts. Given the ongoing urbanization occurring in middle-income countries, the rapid development of increased obesity risk by rural-to-urban migrants suggests that measures to reduce obesity should be a priority for this group.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-185
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


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