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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Public Health 1/2015

Prevalence of obesity in panama: some risk factors and associated diseases

BMC Public Health > Ausgabe 1/2015
Anselmo Mc Donald, Ryan A. Bradshaw, Flavia Fontes, Enrique A. Mendoza, Jorge A. Motta, Alberto Cumbrera, Clara Cruz
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

There are no conflicts of interest.

Authors’ contributions

AM, RB, FF, CC, and AC participated in data collection and the analysis of data. AM, RB and FF conceived the study, drafted the manuscript. AM, RB, FF and JM gave the final approval. All authors read and approved the final manuscripts.



To estimate the prevalence of obesity in Panama and determine some risk factors and associated diseases in adults aged 18 years and older.


A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted in the provinces of Panama and Colon where 60.4 % of all Panamanians 18 years or older reside, by administering a survey regarding the consumption of protective and predisposing foods and assessing the development of obesity by measuring the weight, height, and waist circumference of 3590 people. A single-stage, probabilistic, and randomized sampling strategy employing multivariate stratification was used. Individuals with a body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2 (men and women) were considered obese. Prevalence and descriptive analysis were conducted according to sex using Odds Ratio, with statistical significance set at a p value ≤ 0.05.


The general prevalence of obesity was 27.1 % (30.9 % women and 18.3 % men). In women, obesity was associated with living in urban areas, being 40–59 years of age, being Afro-Panamanian, consuming beverages / foods rich in sugar, being physically inactive and having a family history of obesity. In men, obesity was associated with living in urban areas, consuming beverages/foods rich in sugar, and having a family history of obesity. Almost the totality of obese women (97.9 %), and 80.0 % of men with obesity had abdominal obesity according to the WHO classification. In both sexes, obesity was a risk factor associated to type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, hypertension, LDL values ≥ 100 mg/dL, and low HDL values (<50 mg/dL for women and < 40 mg/dL for men), Odds Ratio > 1.0; P < 0.05.


Obesity represents a very serious threat to Panamanian public health. Our study confirms a direct association in Panama between excess weight, hypertension, type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, LDL values ≥ 100 mg/dL and low HDL values for women and men (<50 mg/dL and < 40 mg/dL, respectively). Intervention / treatment programs should be targeted, specially, to Afro-Panamanian women, whom are 40–59 years old, living in urban areas, and those having a family history of obesity.
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