Anemia in relation to body mass index among female students of North Kerala: a pilot study


  • Veena Thamban Department of Physiology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kannur, Kerala, India
  • Kavana G. Venkatappa Department of Physiology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kannur, Kerala, India
  • Swarnalatha P. K. Department of Physiology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kannur, Kerala, India
  • Sparshadeep E. M. Department of Pharmacology, Academy of Medical Sciences, Pariyaram, Kannur, Kerala, India



Anemia, Body Mass Index, Female students


Background: Anemia among women causes many serious health problems and is pervasive in developing country. Many research studies have documented that malnutrition affects body growth and development, especially during the crucial period of adolescence. The association between anemia and body mass index (BMI) is a measure of nutrition and health status of adults. Aim was to study the association between anemia and BMI among female students.

Methods: An observational study was conducted among first year medical and dental female students (n=109) aged 18-20years. Hemoglobin (Hb) levels (g/dL) by Sahli’s hemoglobinometer and BMI (kg/m2) were estimated. Anemia was defined as Hb content <12g/dL. Subjects were classified by BMI categories as underweight (BMI <18.5kg/m2), normal weight (BMI:18.5-24.99kg/m2), overweight (BMI ≥25kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥30kg/m2) according to WHO. Then the relation between anemia and BMI were statistically analyzed.

Results: Overall, 48.62% female students were anemic. Of which 43.4% were underweight, 22.6% normal weight and 34.5% were above normal weight (over weight and obese). Mean value of hemoglobin was significantly decreased in underweight and overweight compared to normal weight (p<0.001). Anemia was significantly associated with BMI (χ2 =46.48, p=0.000).

Conclusions: The study concludes the occurrence of anemia in both undernourished and over-nourished individuals which were significantly associated. Further studies are needed with larger sample size to document the factors that may be associated with anemia in females.


Durrani AM. Prevalence of anemia in adolescents: a challenge to the global health. Acta Scientific Nutritional Health. 2018;2(4):24-7.

World Health Organization. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Guidelines on food fortification with micronutrients. Geneva: WHO;2006. Available at:

Benoist BD, McLean E, Egll I, Cogswell M. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005: WHO global database on anaemia. Worldwide prevalence of anaemia 1993-2005: WHO global database on anaemia. 2008.

Kassebaum NJ, Jasrasaria R, Naghavi M, Wulf SK, Johns N, Lozano R, et al. A systematic analysis of global anemia burden from 1990 to 2010. Blood. 2014 Jan 30;123(5):615-24.

WHO. Global Nutrition Targets 2025: Anemia Policy Brief. Essential Nutrition Actions: improving

maternal, newborn, infant and young child health and nutrition. 2014. Available at:

Bagni UV, Luiz RR, da Veiga GV. Overweight is associated with low hemoglobin levels in adolescent girls. Obesity Res Clin Prac. 2013 May 1;7(3):e218-29.

Durrani A. Health status of school going adolescent girls. J Psychol Learning Res. 2011: 4.

Sinha AK. Prevalence of Anemia amongst Adolescents in Biratnagar Morang Dist Nepal. Inter J Pharma Biol Archive. 2012;3(5):1077-81.

Rati S, Jawadagi S. Prevalence of anemia among adolescent girls studying in selected schools. IJSR. 2014;3(8):1237-42.

World Health Organization. Iron deficiency anemia: assessment, prevention and control. A guide for programme managers. Geneva: World Health Organization;2001. Availbale at:

Siddharam SM, Venketesh GM, Thejeshwari HL. A study of anemia among adolescent girls in rural area of hassan district, karnataka, south india. Int J Biol Med Res. 2011;2(4):922-4.

Verma A, Rawal VS, Kedia G, Kumar D, Chauhan J. Factors influencing anemia among girls of school going age (6-18 years) from the slums of Ahmadabad city. Ind J Comm Med. 2004;29:25-6.

Saxena Y, Shrivastava A, Saxena V. Effect of gender on correlation of Anaemia with body mass index in medical students. Ind J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011;55(4):364-69.

Keikhaei B, Askari R, Aminzadeh M. Adolescent with unfeasible body mass index: a risk factor for iron deficiency anemia. J Health Med Informat. 2012; 3:109.

World Health Organization. Physical status: The use and interpretation of anthropometry. Geneva: World Health Organization;1995. Available at:

Gupta VM, Shukla KK. Epidemiology of Anaemia in preschool children from a rural and a slum community, Varanasi. Indian J Prev Sac Med. 1985;15:85-9.

Aggarwal DK, Bhardwaj B, Singla PN, Tripathi AM, Aggarwal KN. Etiology of maternal and early childhood deficiency Anaemia. Ind J Pediatr. 1986;53:389-96.

Desai N, Chaudhry VP. Nutritional Anaemia in protein energy malnutrition. Indian Pediatr. 1993;30:1471-83.

Trinh LTT, Dibley M. Anaemia in pregnant, postpartum and non-pregnant women in Lak District, Daklak Pronvice of Vietnam. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2007;16:310-15.

Li R, Chen X, Yan H, Deurenberg P, Garby L. Functional consequences of iron supplementation in iron-deficient female cotton mill workers in Bejing, China. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59:908-13.

Nelson M, Bakaliou F, Trivedi A. Iron deficiency anemia and physical performance in adolescent girls from different ethnic backgrounds. Br J Nutr. 1994;72:427-33.

Dallmon PR. Iron deficiency: does it matter? J Intern Med. 1989;226:367-72.

Scholl TO, Hedinger ML. Anemia and iron deficiency anemia: complication of data on pregnancy outcome. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;59:443.

Buzina R, Bates CG, Vander beek J, Brubacher G, Chandra RK. Workshop on functional significance of mild to moderate malnutrition. Am J Clinical Nutr. 1989;50:172.

Qin Y, Melse-Boonstra A, Pan X, Yuan B, Dai Y, Zhao J, et al. Anemia in relation to body mass index and waist circumference among Chinese women. Nutrition journal. 2013 Dec;12(1):10.

Ghadiri-Anari A, Nazemian N, Vahedian-Ardakani HA. Association of body mass index with hemoglobin concentration and iron parameters in Iranian population. ISRN hematology. 2014 Feb 10;2014.

Pinhas-Hamiel O, Newfield RS, Koren I, Agmon A, Lilos P, Phillip M. Greater prevalence of iron deficiency in overweight and obese children and adolescents. Inter J Obesity. 2003 Mar;27(3):416.




How to Cite

Thamban, V., Venkatappa, K. G., K., S. P., & M., S. E. (2018). Anemia in relation to body mass index among female students of North Kerala: a pilot study. International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, 6(11), 3607–3610.



Original Research Articles