Journal of Public Health

, Volume 27, Issue 5, pp 569–579 | Cite as

Examining the connection between residential histories and obesity among Ghanaians: evidence from a national survey

  • Vincent Z. KuuireEmail author
  • Elijah Bisung
  • Jason M. Were
Original Article



This paper examined the connection between residential histories and obesity in Ghana. In the last two decades, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have witnessed the fastest growth in obesity incidence. These obesity trends in many LMICs including Ghana are associated with rapid economic growth and urbanisation. Features of the urban food and built environments contribute to obesity in LMICs in many ways, including exposure to unhealthy foods, sedentary lifestyles, and passive transportation.


The analytical sample consisted of 4368 adults (aged 18 and above) drawn from the World Health Organisation’s Study on Global Ageing and Health in Ghana. We employed descriptive statistics and multivariate regression models to examine the relationship between residential histories and obesity in later life using STATA 14.


Significant differences were observed among respondents, based on their childhood and adult residential histories. For instance, 44% of respondents who spent their childhood and adult life in the same urban area were obese, compared to 18% of those who spent their childhood and adulthood in the same rural area. Multivariable analysis revealed that cumulative exposure to urban environment was significantly associated with obesity. For example, respondents who spent their childhood and adulthood in different urban areas and childhood and adulthood in the same urban area were significantly more likely to be obese than respondents who lived in rural areas during childhood and adulthood (OR = 2.37, p < 0.001 and OR = 1.44, p < 0.001, respectively).


Our findings show that urban residence during childhood and later in life may present cumulative risks for adult obesity. Locally appropriate public health strategies that encourage healthy lifestyles among urban dwellers will be critical in the fight against obesity.


Obesity Place of residence Residential mobility Ghana 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain information from studies on human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of Toronto MississaugaMississaugaCanada
  2. 2.School of Kinesiology and Health StudiesQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  3. 3.Department of GeographyWestern UniversityLondonCanada

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