Childhood obesity in urban Ghana: evidence from a cross-sectional survey of in-school children aged 5-16 years
Childhood obesity is a growing public health concern in many low-income urban settings; but its determinants are not clear. The purpose of this study is to assess the prevalence of childhood obesity and associated factors among in-school children aged 5–16 years in a Metropolitan district of Ghana.
A cross-sectional quantitative survey was conducted among a sample of 285 in-school children aged 5–16 years. Pre-tested questionnaires and anthropometric data collection methods were used to collect data. Descriptive, bivariate, binary and multivariate logistic regression statistical techniques were used to analyse data.
Some 46.9% (42.2% for males and 51.7% for females) of the children were overweight. Of this, 21.2% were obese (BMI falls above 95th percentile). Childhood obesity was higher in private school (26.8%) than public school (21.4%), and among girls (27.2%) than boys (19%). Factors that increased obesity risks included being aged 11–16 as against 5–10 years (aOR = 6.07; 95%CI = 1.17–31.45; p = 0.025), having a father whose highest education is ‘secondary’ (aOR =2.97; 95% CI = 1.09–8.08; p = 0.032), or ‘tertiary’ (aOR = 3.46; 95% CI = 1.27–9.42; p = 0.015), and consumption of fizzy drinks most days of the week (aOR = 2.84; 95% CI = 1.24–6.52; p = 0.014). Factors that lowered obesity risks included engaging in sport at least 3times per week (aOR = 0.56; 95% CI = 0.33–0.96; p = 0.034), and sleeping for more than 8 h per day (aOR = 0.38; 95% CI = 0.19–0.79; p = 0.009).
Higher parental (father) educational attainment and frequent consumption of fizzy drinks per week may increase obesity risks among in-school children aged 5–16 years in the Metropolitan district of Ghana. However, regular exercise (playing sport at least 3 times per week) and having 8 or more hours of sleep per day could lower obesity risks in the same population. Age and sex-appropriate community and school-based interventions are needed to promote healthy diet selection and consumption, physical activity and healthy life styles among in-school children.