The first ever most comprehensive survey on obesity and other lifestyle behaviours in the country shows that majority of Ghanaians are overweight or obese.
Preliminary findings of the Ghana Obesity Survey 2021, a full-scale obesity study under the auspices of the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) interviewed over 3,300 people in Accra, Kumasi, and Tamale metropolis.
This is unsurprising given the alarming evidence on the eating habits and physical activity participation in the country.
More than half of the population do not exercise at all, and almost 90% don’t eat well (based on the WHO recommended level of fruits and vegetable consumption).
Public health experts fear that’s part of an upward trajectory that left unaddressed, will cause massive health risks for millions of Ghanaians.
The survey was informed by the first ever stakeholder Obesity workshop in 2019 to determine policy direction on obesity in sub-Saharan Africa.
The workshop brought together over 50 policy makers across multiple sectors.
According to the academic lead of the Ghana Obesity Survey, Dr Kingsley Agyemang, “Obesity is on a sharp rise in Ghana and I think it is due to the increased adoption of inactive lifestyles. Being obese is not good for the health of the person. Neither is it good for the health of the nation.”
He argued for the immediate need to develop ‘context-specific, culturally sensitive, cost-effective and sustainable’ public health measures to address obesity in Ghana.
According to him, such interventions could include the mass fitness action he developed in 2020.
The Kingsley Keep Fit now has over 5,000 people in Ghana and has extended to inter-schools event under the auspices of the Ghana Football Association (GFA).
Following this, the Vice President of Ghana Dr Mahamudu Bawumia recently launched the National Fitness Day and encouraged Ghanaians to exercise regularly.
The Presidential Advisor on Health, Dr Nsiah Asare, acknowledged the policy impact of the study when he said “The study was conducted to inform Ghanaian health policy to reduce obesity.
“I believe that the study team built on policy relevant and innovative academic methodologies in reviewing the evidence base, using advanced sampling techniques and statistical analyses to outline key areas that needed attention. …Through the activities of research, stakeholder engagement and consensus building I believe this work is already informing the policy debate in Ghana about tackling obesity.”
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