Rwanda: Obesity on the Rise Among Rwandans – New Study

The number of overweight people in Rwanda has increased from 14 percent in 2013 to 18.6 percent in 2022, according to findings of a country-wide survey carried out by Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC).

Dubbed “STEPS,” the study was done in the form of a household survey that gathered information on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) risk factors through a face-to-face interview, physical measurements, and biochemical analysis.

It used a sample population of 5,676 people aged between 18 and 69 years, from all the four provinces of Rwanda.

Smoking, alcoholism, overweight, physical inactivity, eating behaviour are some of the indicators that it focused on.

The problem of obesity, according to the study, is more prevalent in women than their male counterparts. It found that the number of overweight women increased from 19 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2022. For men, a slight increase was recorded from 9 percent to 11.5 percent during the same period.

Dr Francois Uwinkindi, the Manager of the Non-Communicable Diseases Division at RBC, said obesity is a risk factor for diabetes, hypertension and heart diseases. He noted that the numbers of obese people are not yet alarming but they are “increasing.”

More findings of the study showed that the number of people doing sufficient physical exercise has increased by almost five fold from 2013 to 2022.

In 2013, it was estimated that 21.4 percent of people in Rwanda were not doing enough physical activity, however, the numbers fell to 4.6 percent in 2022.