Project Official Title: Measuring the healthiness of Ghanaian children’s food environments to prevent obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases
Project Name: “MEALS4NCDs Project” – providing Measurement Evaluation, Accountability and Leadership Support (MEALS) for NCDs prevention in Ghana and beyond
Like many countries in Africa, Ghana is experiencing an increase in obesity and nutrition-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Between 1993 and 2014, the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Ghanaian women increased from 10% to 40%. Other statistics indicate that in Ghana, the proportion of adult deaths attributable to NCDs is over 40%.
Ghanaian households report frequent consumption of foods high in calories, sugar, saturated fat and salt all of which are known to contribute to NCDs. Simultaneously, anecdotal evidence points to a high number of misleading marketing of such foods in both private and public-sector settings.
It has long been recognized that the physical and social environments – in which we live, work, and eat are critical determinants of health. More recently, there has been a greater focus on the food environment (FE) as a key determinant of health. We do know that unhealthy food environment drives unhealthy diets; and unhealthy diet is one of four main risk factors for NCDs.
Actions focused on creating healthy food environments are thus urgently needed – especially those that aim to improve the relative availability, affordability and diversity of healthy foods; and to limit availability and promotion of unhealthy foods.
This project aims to measure and support public sector actions that create healthy food marketing and food provision environments for children and adolescents to prevent obesity nutrition-related NCDs.
The objectives of the project are three-fold:
- To describe the nature and extent of unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverage promotion on television, in stores, and in and around schools;
2. To determine the nutritional quality of foods and non-alcoholic beverages provided or sold in child-serving institutions (mainly primary and secondary schools).
3. To assess community stakeholders’ readiness to accept, and capacity to implement obesity/NCD prevention interventions.
This three-year project will be delivered through the Food Promotion Module and Food Provision Module approaches developed by the International Network for Food and Obesity NCDs Research Monitoring and Action Support (INFORMAS). Additionally, the project will implement the Community Readiness Model (CRM). The CRM is not included in the INFORMAS protocol. It will generate data that complement those from the Food promotion and Food provisions modules.
Integrated into the project’s technical work packages are two capacity building workshops aimed at laying the foundation for robust and innovative implementation of food environment research and practice in Africa. These workshops will focus on strengthening capacity and training researchers in the African sub-region, whose work relate directly to improving food environments in Africa, to adapt the INFORMAS protocols and processes in their respective countries. Details are provided under the Project’s FERN initiative.
This project is funded by The International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Food, Environment, and Health Program – IDRC, Canada.