Prevalence and risk factors of obesity among senior high school students in the Adansi North District in Ashanti Region of Ghana.

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Obesity is a multifaceted condition that is caused by a combination of environmental, medical and psychological factors. It is one of today’s noticeable yet neglected public health problem with serious health consequences such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases that affect individuals of all ages globally. Adolescents are particularly prone to obesity owing to their reduction in physical activity, as well as to the greater accessibility of foods void of nutritional value. Additionally, adolescents’ susceptible nature and changing bodies also contribute to their increase weights. The life course perspective postulates that, excessive body weight can persist from adolescence to adulthood, and increase the risk of NCDs. Among the adolescents, the school environment is a crucial setting for the development of and, or engagement in unhealthy dietary and physical activity behaviour. The primary objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and risk factors of obesity among Senior High School Students in the Adansi North District in the Ashanti Region. Also, the study sought to assess the physical activity levels and the food consumption pattern of the students, as well as establishing the relationship between the independent variables and obesity. A descriptive cross- sectional survey was conducted among 306 adolescents aged 12- 19 years. The adolescents were recruited from the five senior high schools in the district using stratified random sampling technique. Data was collected by the use of structured questionnaire and anthropometric data sheet to calculate for BMI levels. STATA version 11.1, and Microsoft Excel was used to analyze the data collected. Results from the chi-square test indicated that, there was a significant relationship between leisure activities and obesity such as playing computer games (x2=7.5086, df=9, p<0.05), and TV watching (x2=6.3576, df=2, p<0.05). There was no significant relationship between playing and assisting in household chores and obesity (x2=9.5706, df=7, p>0.05), (x2=7.2145, df=2, p>0.05) respectively. There was also a significant relationship between food consumption pattern and obesity (x2= 21.6181, df= 9, p< 0.05), a significant relationship was seen between mode of transportation and obesity (x2=30.6244, df=15, p<0.05) and there was a significant relationship between income level of parents and obesity (x2=8.3189, df=6, p<0.05). Overall prevalence of obesity among the adolescents was found to be 47.06%. Factors that were associated with the development of obesity were; physical inactivity levels and consumption of foods that were dense in fats and carbohydrates. Even though majority 62.75% of the respondents ate three times in a day, their meals were mainly energy dense foods and fats. Few of the respondents were found to be physically active and majority of them spent their leisure time watching TV (44.44%), whilst 23.2% spent their time playing computer games or video. Also 65.36% of the respondents consumed snacks in between meals while 54.58% did not consume fresh fruits for a whole week period. The study concludes that, the prevalence of obesity among the adolescents in the Adansi North District is quite high compared to rates in some developed countries. There is the need to plan for the most efficient and effective interventions not only to ensure food security, but also maintain healthy lifestyles, (thus, improving eating habits and increasing physical activities) so as to reduce the prevalence of obesity among the adolescents in Ghana as a whole.
A thesis submitted to the department of health promotion and education, College of Health Sciences, School of Public Health, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Public Health in Health Education and Promotion,