The prevalence of obesity among female teachers of child-bearing age in Ghana
Obesity has increasingly become a public health problem in both developed and developing countries. In Ghana, the prevalence of obesity has been found to be high particularly among women. The rising trend of obesity in Ghana is worrying as studies have shown an increased risk of morbidity, disability and mortality associated with obesity. This study examined the prevalence of obesity among Ghanaian teachers of child-bearing age. A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 400 female teachers between the ages of 18 and 49 years from two sub-metropolitan areas in Accra District, Ghana. A questionnaire was used to gather information on the socioeconomic status, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), alcohol intake, physical activity and food intake. Appropriate statistical methods were used to determine the association between variables. The mean age, BMI and WHR were 35.9 ± 8.2 years, 27.2±5.3 kgm-2 and 0.79±0.07 respectively. About 34% of the women were overweight while 27% were found to be obese with 17.8% centrally-obese. The WHR ratio, however, classified majority (57%) of the women as low risk. There was a strong positive correlation between BMI and WHR with age. This means that as women aged, both BMI and WHR increased. The prevalence of obesity for a woman above 35years was about four times higher than the prevalence among the younger age group (<25years) and two times higher than that of the middle age group (26-35years). This study found that at any age group underweight, overweight and obesity co-existed. Socioeconomic variables such as marital status, income and parity showed a positive association with BMI and waist circumference. Consumption of fruits and vegetables was observed to be low among respondents. This study recommends that measures such as healthy eating guidelines supported by vigorous physical activities should be put in place in schools to help teachers maintain healthy body weights (BMI 19-25) in order to prevent the risk of obesity and its related life threatening effects.
Key words: Obesity, Prevalence, Women, Teachers, Ghana
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