|Dietary intake and its associated factors among in-school adolescents in Ghana|
||PLOS ONE , DOI:https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0268319
Early-life nutrition related experiences may fuel the emergence of obesity and type 2 diabetes in adolescence. The adoption of unhealthy dietary practices early in life is an indicator of adverse cardiometabolic health in adulthood. In-school adolescents’ dietary practices in Ghana have not been explored extensively despite increasing levels of obesity in adolescents. This study sought to examine dietary practices, socio-demographic disparities and the factors influencing dietary choices among in-school adolescents in Ghana.
A school-based, cross-sectional study was conducted in the Central region of Ghana in 2017. Using multistage sampling procedures, a total of 1,311 in-school adolescents were selected for the study. A modified version of the generic Global School Health Survey questionnaire on dietary practices was adapted and used for data collection. Percentage and frequency counts were used to report on the dietary practices, while Chi-square was used to determine socio-demographic variations in the dietary practices. Binary logistic regression was used to compute the influence of socio-demographic characteristics of respondents on the prevalence of healthy dietary behavior among in-school adolescents.
The study revealed the prevalence of healthy dietary practices (49.9%, n = 654) among in-school adolescents in the region. The study also found increased frequency in consumption of soft drinks (93%, n = 1220) and toffees/sweets (90%, n = 1183) among in-school adolescents. However, low intake of breakfast (57%, n = 749) was observed among the adolescents. Significant disparities were observed in relation to gender, age, parental communication, academic performance and geographical location in the dietary practices of in-school adolescents. Furthermore, gender (OR = 1.36, P = 0.007), academic performance (OR = 2.19, P = 0.001) and geographical location (OR = 1.79, P = 0.001) were found to be significantly associated with dietary practices among in-school adolescents in the region.
There was low consumption of fruits and vegetables among adolescents. Fruits and vegetables consumption was associated with gender, academic performance and geographical location, and these may be a reflection that knowledge on healthy food choices and availability are important factors influencing dietary choices among in-school adolescents. School health policy interventions aimed at improving nutritional status among adolescents and enhanced fruit and vegetable consumption in the country should take into account the potential benefit of increasing availability of fruits and vegetables in schools, while reducing access to sweets and soft drinks in the schools and communities.