Prevalence of overweight and obesity



Overweight/Obesity is a disorder involving excessive body fat accumulation that increases the risk of health problems (WHO,2019).
Obesity or Overweight occurs when you consume more calories than you burn via exercise and routine daily activities (Yu, et al., 2018).
A body mass index (BMI, kg/m2) of 30 or higher denotes obesity whereas a BMI of 25.0 – 29.9 denotes overweight. Excessive visceral fat is what influences the risk of serious health problems (WHO, 2019).

The worldwide prevalence of overweight and obesity has doubled since 1980 to an extent that nearly a third of the world population is now classified as overweight or obese
Obesity continues to accelerate resulting in an unprecedented epidemic that shows no significant signs of slowing down any time soon.
Obesity and overweight are the fifth-greatest cause of death worldwide, accounting for at least 2.8 million adult deaths annually (WHO, 2016).

How dangerous is obesity?

Obesity adversely affects nearly all physiological functions of the body and comprises a significant public health threat.
It increases the risk of developing multiple disease conditions, such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, several types of cancers, an array of musculoskeletal disorders, and poor mental health, all of which have negative effects on the quality of life, work productivity, and healthcare costs.

Treatment for these disorders can put a strain on healthcare systems: obese people, for example, are expected to have a 30 % higher medical expense than people with a normal BMI.
Treating the implications of obesity is an expensive problem for patients, as related total health-care expenses double every decade (Yu, et al., 2018).

Worldwide Prevalence of Obesity

In 2015, 1.9 billion and 609 million adults worldwide were estimated to be overweight or obese, representing nearly 39% of the world’s population.
According to a study published in the Journal of Infection and Public Health, 2.2 million of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths documented worldwide by the end of February 2021 occurred in nations where more than half of the population is overweight.
World Obesity Day, which was marked on 4 March, had the theme “Everybody Needs to Act”.

What is the case in Africa?

A recent World Health Organization (WHO) report predicts that; one in five adults and one in ten adolescents and teens in ten high-burden African nations would be obese by December 2023. If no strong steps are implemented to reverse the trend.
In 2019, the continent was home to 24% of the world’s overweight children aged under 5.
“Africa is grappling with growing obesity and overweight epidemic, with rising tendencies. This is a ticking time bomb on the verge of exploding. “If unchecked, millions of people, especially children, risk living shorter lives as a result of poor health,” said WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti.

How about Obesity in Ghana?

Nearly 43% of Ghana’s adult population is fat or overweight. Furthermore, 45.6% of adult patients with diabetes in Ghana are overweight or obese.
In addition, current research suggests that women are more likely than men to be overweight or obese. For example, Benkeser, Biritwum, and Hill discovered that in the Accra Metropolis, 64.9% of Ghanaian women aged 18 and up were overweight or obese.
Furthermore, new data indicates that Ghana has a high prevalence of childhood obesity. In one study of youngsters aged 5 to 14, 17.4% were obese.

Obesity and Overweight Interventions

  1. Consume a healthy diet, a diet low in fat, high in dietary fibre and nutrient-dense.
  2. Weight loss should be gradual by reducing Calorie intake to small amounts.
  3. Carbonated beverages should be restricted and replaced with fruit juices, tea can be consumed without added sugar.
  4. The method of cooking should be modified.
  5. Alcohol should be restricted.
  6. Increase Physical Activity.


  1. Reduction in blood pressure
  2. Reduction in total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
  3. Increase in HDL
  4. Lowers elevated blood glucose levels

Emmanuel Amankrah Kwofie

RND (RD) // MPhil Human Nutrition and Dietetic // BSc Sports and Exercise Science

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