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Obesity saga: Only 10% of Ghanaians exercise and eat healthily-research

The recent Ghana Statistical Service survey which suggests 50 percent of Ghanaians are overweight or obese have taken many by surprise.

But what could be the drivers of this situation? Perhaps, Brunel University has some answers.

A research by the Division of Global Public Health of Brunel University London has found that only 10 percent of Ghanaians exercise and eat healthily at the same time.

The study published in the international journal of Environmental Research and Public Health aimed to determine the factors affect physical activity and healthy eating among adults aged 18 years or older in three metropolises that is Kumasi, Accra, and Tamale.

The research led by a KNUST part-time lecturer, Dr. Kingsley Agyemang who spearheaded the most comprehensive dataset on obesity in Ghana to date(Ghana Obesity Survey 2021) involved 3348 respondents with an average age of 40. Majority (60%) of them were women.

The findings first revealed that the more a person engages in physical activity, the more he’s likely to eat healthily.

“The results show that the correlation between participating in physical activity and eating a healthy diet was statistically significant. This positive correlation indicates the existence of a relationship between these two behavioral decisions,” the report stated.

Again, men were found to be more likely to be physically active but less likely to eat well.

Interestingly, it came up in the findings that people who perceive being overweight as either a sign of beauty, a sign of good living, or hereditary were less likely to be physically active.

Conversely, realizing that it’s unhealthy to be obese led individuals to be physically active.

The study again found area of residence had the most significant association with physical activity.

Compared with Kumasi residents, Tamale residents were 26% less likely to engage in physical activity.

With respect to Income and employment, the findings revealed that “high-income earners (>GH¢ 1000 per month) and the employed were 3–5% and 6% more likely to engage in physical activity, respectively.”

Furthermore, though people who married are likely to eat healthily, it’s not so much as compared to those who are not married.

The study also showed that religion has no effect on the consumption of healthy diet.

The researchers believe the findings can be adopted by government and state agencies to fashion out ways to curb unhealthy lifestyle choices in Ghana.

“The new knowledge gained from this analysis around the nature and the extent of the interconnectedness between physical activity and diet is critical to devising targeted interventions for obesity prevention in Ghana,” the researchers noted.


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