Determinants of overweight with concurrent stunting among Ghanaian children

Atsu BK, Guure C, Laar AK (2017)



Malnutrition (undernutrition and overnutrition) is a major public health problem in Ghana –affecting growth and development of individuals and the nation. Stunting and overweight are of particular interest, as recent national surveys show a rising trend of overnutrition and stubbornly high burden of stunting among Ghanaian children. There are currently no data on the simultaneous occurrence of overweight and stunting within individuals in Ghana. This paper presents the burden, the individual-level, and contextual determinants of overweight with concurrent stunting among Ghanaian children.


This study analyzed data set of the fourth round of the Ghana Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS4). Bivariate analyses were used to describe selected characteristics of survey respondents and their children. Hierarchical modelling approach facilitated identification of significant distal, intermediate and proximal factors/determinants of concurrent stunting and overweight. Both crude and adjusted prevalence ratios via a multivariable Poison regression model with their corresponding 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) are reported. Variables with p ≤ 0.25 at the bivariate level were included in the multivariable analysis. An alpha value of 5% was used to indicate significance.


Of 7550 cases (children) analyzed, the prevalence of stunting was 27.5%; underweight was 17.3%; and wasting was 7.7%. The prevalence of overweight and concurrent overweight and stunting were respectively 2.4% and 1.2%. Children who belonged to the fourth wealth quintile, were more likely to be overweight and concurrently stunted as against children belonging to the poorest quintile (aPR = 1.010; 95% CI, 1.003–1.017). Compared to religious (Christians/Muslim/Traditionalist) household heads, children whose household heads did not belong to any religion had 2 times the rates of the Overweight with concurrent stunting (PR = 2.024; 95% CI, 1.016–4.034). Children with mothers aged 20–34 and 35–49 had an increased though insignificant prevalence ratio of association (aPR = 1.001; 95% CI, 0.994–1.005) and (aPR = 1.001; 95% CI, 0.998–1.012) respectively.


This analysis determined the prevalence of concurrent stunting and overweight among Ghanaian children to be 1.2%. Four contextual variables (breastfeeding status, religion, geographic region, and wealth index quintile) were associated with overweight with concurrent stunting. We conclude that, only contextual factors are predictive of DBM among children under five living in Ghana.

Keywords: Stunting, Overweight, Overweight with concurrent stunting, Undernutrition, Overnutrition and children under-five, Ghana