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Predictors of underweight in children under-five years in Ghana

Evelyn Acquah
Eugene K M Darteh
Hubert Amu
Daniel K A Adjei


Background: Underweight is a key indicator of malnutrition in children and results in long term effects such as abnormalities in physical and mental health, behavioural problems, and low educational achievement.

Objective: Using the conceptual framework for child malnutrition by the United Nations Children's Fund, we examined the predictors of underweight in children under five years in Ghana.

Methods: This cross-sectional study made use of data from the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey. A total of 2720 children were included in the analysis. Descriptive and inferential statistics comprising frequency, percentage, chi-square, and binary logistic regression were used in analysing the data.

Results: The prevalence of underweight was 11%. Age, wealth status, mother’s education, region, ethnicity, household toilet facility, the source of drinking water, the incidence of diarrhoea, and subscription to health insurance significantly predicted underweight in the children. The risk of being underweight was higher in females than males (OR=1.04, 95% CI=0.81–1.34). This was, however, not statistically significant. The probability of being underweight also declined significantly with mother’s level of education.

Conclusion: Our findings underscore the need for the Ghana Health Service and other health sector stakeholders to apportion interventions with a focus on improving complementary feeding, poverty alleviation, and health status of children.

Funding: No funding was received for the study

Keywords: malnutrition, underweight, predictors, children, under five, Ghana