Scientists are advocating a national policy to tackle overweight and obesity among Ghanaians.

Principal Investigator of Researching Obesogenic Food Environments says the situation requires urgent action for healthy food environment.

Dr. Reginald Ajetey Annan spoke at a collaborative research workshop in Kumasi.

A 2016 study in Ghana shows 99 percent of households depend on traditional markets to source their food, including processed.

Preference is attributed to greater variety, lower price and proximity.

The researchers stress need for interventions to ensure local markets stock a variety of fresh, rather than processed foods to promote health.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly two billion adults across the globe were estimated to be overweight in 2014.

Studies conducted between 1998-2016 show 43 percent of Ghanaian adults are found to be obese.

Health professionals say obesity is an important risk factor for diabetes, high blood pressure and other non-communicable diseases.

Preliminary findings suggest Ghana’s environment is flooded with foods that increase the risk of obesity and associated complications.

“Policy is important because the food environment is also driven by trade and trade policy determines what is available,” he said.

“If the turkey tail [ban] example has worked it means other policies can be put in place to tackle foods that are high in sugar, salt, fat etc,” he added.

Researching Obesogenic Food environments is a 3-year joint study between Ghana and South Africa.

Funded by International Development Research Centre, it seeks to understand changing nature of food marketed in poor communities in both countries.

Drivers of these changes and the potential lift available to improve the healthiness of local food market are among the objectives.

The second phase of the programme will focus on retail energy and value chain governance.

“This will culminate in the third phase which will analyze governance and political economy and identify policy opportunities,” said Prof. Rina Swart of the University of Western Cape.