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Overweight and obesity among Ghanaian residents in The Netherlands: how do they weigh against their urban and rural counterparts in Ghana?

  • Charles Agyemang (a1), Ellis Owusu-Dabo (a2), Ank de Jonge (a3), David Martins (a4), Gbenga Ogedegbe (a5) and Karien Stronks (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 July 2009

To investigate differences in overweight and obesity between first-generation Dutch-Ghanaian migrants in The Netherlands and their rural and urban counterparts in Ghana.


Cross-sectional study.


A total of 1471 Ghanaians (rural Ghanaians, n 532; urban Ghanaians, n 787; Dutch-Ghanaians, n 152) aged ≥17 years.

Main outcome measures

Overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2) and obesity (BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2).


Dutch-Ghanaians had a significantly higher prevalence of overweight and obesity (men 69·1 %, women 79·5 %) than urban Ghanaians (men 22·0 %, women 50·0 %) and rural Ghanaians (men 10·3 %, women 19·0 %). Urban Ghanaian men and women also had a significantly higher prevalence of overweight and obesity than their rural Ghanaian counterparts. In a logistic regression analysis adjusting for age and education, the odds ratios for being overweight or obese were 3·10 (95 % CI 1·75, 5·48) for urban Ghanaian men and 19·06 (95 % CI 8·98, 40·43) for Dutch-Ghanaian men compared with rural Ghanaian men. Among women, the odds ratios for being overweight and obese were 3·84 (95 % CI 2·66, 5·53) for urban Ghanaians and 11·4 (95 % CI 5·97, 22·07) for Dutch-Ghanaians compared with their rural Ghanaian counterparts.


Our current findings give credence to earlier reports of an increase in the prevalence of overweight/obesity with urbanization within Africa and migration to industrialized countries. These findings indicate an urgent need to further assess migration-related factors that lead to these increases in overweight and obesity among migrants with non-Western background, and their impact on overweight- and obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes among these populations.

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