Overweight and hypertension among college of health sciences employees in Ghana

  • R Aryeetey
  • J Ansong
Keywords: Overweight, hypertension, abdominal adiposity, lifestyle

Abstract

Healthcare workers, by virtue of their greater access to information, are expected to have less risk of obesity, hypertension, and other health outcomes often linked to lifestyles. However, there is limited evidence on practices and status of personnel who work in the healthcare setting about hypertension and overweight in Ghana. The current study tests the hypothesis that overweight and hypertension rates, as well as related risk factors among staff and faculty of the College of Health Sciences (CHS),
University of Ghana, will be more positive than among the lay public. In June and July 2009, a cross-sectional self-completed survey was administered to 141 male and female faculty and staff of the College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, in Accra. A representative sample was selected by proportionate random sampling from all seven academic and research units of the CHS. Anthropometry and blood pressure
measurements were taken with questionnaire data on lifestyle, dietary history, and socio-demographic variables. Overweight and obesity were diagnosed as BMI >25 and >30 kg/m2, respectively. Abdominal adiposity was estimated as waist hip ratio >0.80 (females) or >0.95 (males). Hypertension was diagnosed as diastolic or systolic blood pressure > 140 or 90 mm Hg, respectively. Mean age of respondents was 40.5 + 10.8 years; 43% were over-weight, including 13% obese. More than one-third of
overweight respondents did not report an overweight body image. Abdominal adiposity and hypertension rates were 25% and 34%,  respectively. Low rates of regular physical activity (25%) and consumption of fruits and vegetables (40%) were observed. Overweight (OR=3.83; p<0.01) and central adiposity (OR=4.8; p<0.01) were associated with significantly increased risk of hypertension. Being married was a significant predictor of overweight (p<0.05), abdominal adiposity (p<0.05), and hypertension (p<0.05). The study concludes that working in a healthcare environment or being a health worker does not diminish your risk of overweight and hypertension. It is, therefore, recommended that interventions addressing overweight and hypertension should place attention more on environmental modifications rather than awareness creation.
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eISSN: 1684-5374
print ISSN: 1684-5358