Health officials attribute surge in NCDs among Ghanaians to lifestyle changes

Health officials in Ghana have attributed an increase in Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among young people to changes in their lifestyles.

The Vice President of the Ghana Medical Association, Prof. Ernest Yorke, explained that factors such as increased reliance on junk food, higher alcohol consumption, and reduced physical activity are major triggers for NCDs among the youth.

Prof. Yorke, in an interview with Citi News, highlighted the risk factors and changes in lifestyle choices associated with these conditions.

He observed that fewer people walk or engage in physical activities, such as taking their children to school on foot. Instead, they opt for vehicle transportation for even short distances.

Additionally, the type of diet has changed, with many Ghanaians consuming large quantities of carbohydrate-rich foods like banku and rice, which may contribute to the rise in NCDs.

“In practice, that’s what we’ve seen and in materials and publications that I have reviewed. The trend is also in the same direction with children and the reasons are not far-fetched. You can talk about lifestyle. Many few of us are walking now, taking our kids to school.

For little things that you could trot and go to the next neighbour’s house, we are now using the vehicle. And our diets, you know it’s key. While in other places we talk about protein, what type of meal is characterized by what protein the meal has. We are eating a lot of banku, rice in great quantities.”

In response to this growing concern, the National Coordinator of the Ghana NCD Alliance, Labram Musah, emphasized the need for stakeholders to implement policies to curb the trend.

He suggested that one effective method could be to review the country’s tax structure and impose higher taxes on unhealthy commodities.

He believes this would make such products more expensive, potentially discouraging their consumption and promoting healthier choices among the population.

“The buck stops with our heads of state, our policymakers, our decision makers from the Ministry of Finance, Ghana Health Service, EPA, everywhere, that we need to consciously see how best we can review our tax structure because one of the most effective means of reducing the burden of people is taxing unhealthy commodities. When they become expensive, people will think twice about investing in it.”

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