Underweight is defined as being below the healthy weight range. Underweight in reproductive age group women not only affects women but also increases the risk of an intergenerational cycle of malnutrition and child mortality. Various factors are linked with underweight among women. However, studies on the prevalence of underweight and its associated factors among women are limited in Ethiopia. Hence, this study aimed to assess the prevalence of underweight and its associated factors among reproductive age group women in Ethiopia.
For this study, data were drawn from the 2016 Ethiopian demographic and health survey (EDHS). From the total, 15,683 women participants of the 2016 EDHS; a subsample of 2,848 participants aged 15–49 years who had a complete response to all variables of interest were selected and utilized for analysis. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 20 software program. Pearson's chi-squared test was used to assess the frequency distribution of underweight and is presented with different sociodemographic characteristics. Logistic regression models were applied for analysis. A two-sided p value of less than 0.05 was used to declare a statistically significant association between the independent variables and underweight among women.
The prevalence of underweight among reproductive age group women in Ethiopia was 17.6%. The majority, 78.3% of underweight women, were rural dwellers. The odds of being underweight was higher among the young aged women, among those residing in rural areas, in those with higher educational status, and in those who have one or more children. On the other hand, the odds of underweight among respondents living in Benishangul, SNNPR, and Addis Ababa were less compared to those living in Dire Dawa. Similarly, the odds of underweight among participants with a higher level of husband or partner educational status and among those who chew Khat were less compared to their counterparts.
Underweight among reproductive age group women in Ethiopia is still a major public health problem, particularly among rural dwellers. Underweight was significantly associated with different sociodemographic variables. Hence, context-based awareness creation programs need to be designed on the prevention methods of underweight in Ethiopia, giving especial emphasis to those residing in rural areas.