A micronutrient survey conducted by the Ghana Health Service (GHS) has revealed that about 39 per cent of women in the country are obese.
The report, which was conducted across the country between May and June last year, shows that 49 per cent of women in urban areas are obese, while those in rural areas account for 29 per cent.
According to the report, 47 per cent of the obese women are in the southern belt of the country, comprising the Greater Accra, Ashanti and Eastern regions, while 19 per cent live in the three regions of the north.
A person is said to be obese when the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is the measure of the body fat based on height and weight, is 30kg or more, rather than the normal BMI that ranges between 18.5kg and 24.9kg.
Overweight occurs when a person has a BMI that is between 25kg and 29.9 kg.
A senior lecturer of nutrition at the University of Ghana, Dr Seth Adu-Afarwuah, who presented the research findings in Accra, attributed the prevalence of obesity, especially in the urban areas to top sedentary lifestyle and increasing taste for packed foods.
The Ghana Micronutrient Survey (GMS), which was conducted among 1,064 non-pregnant women, 1,234 children and 2159 households selected across the country, was a comprehensive study of the anaemia, vitamin A, iron haemoglobin and malaria prevalence among women and children.
The research team was led by the University of Ghana with funding support from the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNCEF) and the Canadian Government.
The objective of the study was to generate ready and reliable data on micronutrients to help address malnutrition and improve on the health condition of children and women.
A dissemination workshop was organised by the GHS where key stakeholders were brought together to discuss the findings and make recommendations to policymakers to take remedial actions.
Dr Adu-Afarwuah, who presented the research findings, said it was discovered that 21 per cent of children below five experience stunted growth.
He explained that 27 per cent of children under five in rural areas were stunted, with 14 per cent of those in urban areas also experiencing stunting.
He said the place of residence, as well as the wealth of people significantly influenced the prevalence of stunting in the country.
Details of the study showed that there was a 21.7 per cent national prevalence of anaemia among non-pregnant women, while the prevalence among children stood at 36 per cent Vitamin A deficiency in children under five also stood at 21 per cent.
In the area of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), the study showed that only three per cent of households had adequate sanitation facilities.
“Only 16 per cent of the households have fixed water sink and 63 per cent have water for hand washing at the place of dwelling. Only about a quarter of households in the country use clean cooking fuel,” the study added.
The researchers called on policymakers to take steps to reduce anaemia in women and children and also put in place mechanisms to deal with malaria.
The Director of Family Health at the GHS, Dr Patrick Aboagye, said the findings of the study was a wake-up call for policymakers to put in place mechanisms to tackle the challenges relating to the health needs of vulnerable groups, especially women and children.
He called for a multi-faceted approach involving researchers, policymakers in the health sector, civil society organisations (CSOs) in health and other stakeholders to improve on the country’s health system.
Source: Graphic Online