The prevalence and correlates of the double burden of malnutrition among women in Ghana

Kushitor, Sandra Boatemaa ; Owusu, Lily ; Kushitor, Mawuli Kobla (2020)

CITATION: Kushitor, S. B., Owusu, L. & Kushitor, M. K. 2020. The prevalence and correlates of the double burden of malnutrition among women in Ghana. PLoS ONE, 15(12): e0244362, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0244362.

The original publication is available at

Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund


Anaemia and underweight or overweight/obesity are major public health problems driving maternal and child mortality in low- and middle-income countries. While the burden of these conditions is recognised, the evidence for the co-occurrence of these conditions is fragmented and mixed, especially at the individual level. Further, many studies have focused on families and communities. The different pathways for the occurrence of anaemia and BMI challenges indicate that an individual can potentially live with both conditions and suffer the complications. This study examined the prevalence and factors associated with the co-occurrence of anaemia and BMI challenges among a cohort of women in Ghana. Data from the 2014 Ghana Demographic and Health Survey were used. The sample size was 4 337 women aged 15–49 years who were not pregnant during the survey. Women who suffered simultaneously from underweight or overweight/obesity and anaemia were considered as having the double burden of malnutrition. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics, Chi-square test and logistic regression in STATA. One-fifth of the participants were overweight (21%), 4% were underweight and about one-tenth were obese (12%). The prevalence of anaemia was 41%. Only one in three women had normal weight and was not anaemic (34%). About 14% of the women experienced the double burden of malnutrition. Being overweight and anaemic (57%) was the most common form of this double burden. Age, marital status, parity, and wealth were t key risk factors associated with the double burden of malnutrition. The findings from this study show that women experience multiple nutritional challenges concurrently and that only a few women had healthy nutritional status. This information is particularly important and can be introduced into health education programmes to help address misconceptions about body weight and health.

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