Rapidly increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in older Ghanaian adults from 2007-2015: Evidence from WHO-SAGE waves 1 & 2

Stella T. Lartey, Costan G. Magnussen, Lei Si, Godfred O. Boateng, Barbara de Graaff, Richard Berko Biritwum, Nadia Minicuci, Paul Kowal, Leigh Blizzard, Andrew J. Palmer

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Background Studies on changes in the prevalence and determinants of obesity in older adults living in sub-Saharan Africa are scarce. We examined recent changes in obesity prevalence and associated factors for older adults in Ghana between 2007/08 and 2014/15. Methods Data on adults aged 50 years and older in Ghana were drawn from the WHO SAGE 2007/ 08 (Wave 1; n = 4158) and 2014/15 (Wave 2; n = 1663). The weighted prevalence of obesity, overweight, normal weight and underweight, and of high central adiposity were compared in 2007/08 and 2014/15. Multinomial and binomial logistic regressions were used to examine whether the determinants of weight status based on objectively measured body mass index and waist circumference changed between the two time periods. Results The prevalence of overweight (2007/08 = 19.6%, 95% CI: 18.0–21.4%; 2014/15 = 24.5%, 95% CI: 21.7–27.5%) and obesity (2007/08 = 10.2%, 95% CI: 8.9–11.7%; 2014/15 = 15.0%, 95% CI: 12.6–17.7%) was higher in 2014/15 than 2007/08 and more than half of the population had high central adiposity (2007/08 = 57.7%, 95% CI: 55.4–60.1%; 2014/15 = 66.9%, 95% CI: 63.7–70.0%) in both study periods. While the prevalence of overweight increased in both sexes, obesity prevalence was 16% lower in males and 55% higher in females comparing 2007/08 to 2014/15. Female sex, urban residence, and high household wealth were associated with higher odds of overweight/obesity and high central adiposity. Those aged 70+ years had lower odds of obesity in both study waves. In 2014/15, females who did not meet the recommended physical activity were more likely to be obese. Conclusion Over the 7-year period between the surveys, the prevalence of underweight decreased and overweight increased in both sexes, while obesity decreased in males but increased in females. The difference in obesity prevalence may point to differential impacts of past initiatives to reduce overweight and obesity, potential high-risk groups in Ghana, and the need to increase surveillance.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0215045
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2019

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