Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Sociodemographic variations in obesity among Ghanaian adults

Albert GB Amoaha1a2 c1

a1 Diabetes Research Laboratory, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, University of Ghana Medical School, Post Office Box 4236, Accra, Ghana

a2 National Diabetes Management and Research Centre, Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Accra, Ghana.


Objectives: To determine the sociodemographic associations of obesity in Ghana.

Design: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted on a sample of 6300 adults aged 25 years and over who were selected by random cluster sampling.

Setting: Two urban (high-class and low-class suburbs) and a rural community in Accra, Ghana.

Subjects and methods: In total, 4731 (1857 males, 2874 females) subjects participated. Demographic data were obtained by a questionnaire and height and weight were determined with subjects in light clothing and without shoes.

Results: The overall crude prevalence of overweight and obesity was 23.4 and 14.1%, respectively. The rates of overweight (27.1 vs. 17.5%) and obesity (20.2 vs. 4.6%) were higher in females than males. Obesity increased with age up to 64 years. There were more overweight and obesity in the urban high-class residents compared with the low-class residents and in urban than rural subjects. Overweight and obesity were highest among the Akan and Ga tribes and relatively low among Ewes. Subjects with tertiary education had the highest prevalence of obesity (18.8%) compared with less literate and illiterate subjects (12.5–13.8%). Subjects whose jobs were of a sedentary nature had higher levels of obesity (15%) than subjects whose jobs involved heavy physical activity (10%). Subjects who did not engage in leisure-time physical activity were more obese than those who had three or more sessions of leisure-time physical activity per week (15.3 vs. 13.5%).

Conclusions: Overweight and obesity are common among residents in the Accra area. Older age, female gender, urban, high-class residence, sedentary occupation and tertiary education were associated with higher levels of obesity. Policies and programmes that promote healthy lifestyles may prove beneficial.

(Received February 10 2003)

(Accepted June 16 2003)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email