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BMC Public Health. 2015 Mar 19;15:269. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1546-3.

The association of physical activity, body mass index and the blood pressure levels among urban poor youth in Accra, Ghana.

Author information

Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 96, Legon, Ghana.
Department of Public Health Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 96, Legon, Ghana.
Centre for Healthful Behaviour Change, New York University, School of Medicine, New York, USA.
Regional Institute for Population Studies, University of Ghana, P. O. Box LG 96, Legon, Ghana.



Globally, there is an increasing prevalence of high blood pressure (HBP) among adults and youth. However, the mechanisms of how the risk factors (physical inactivity and obesity) relate with blood pressure (BP) are not well known especially among the urban poor youth in low and middle income countries. Meanwhile childhood and adolescent physical inactivity and obesity, particularly in conditions of poverty, predispose individuals to cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) in later life. The aim of this study was to assess the BP levels and to examine its associations with physical activity (PA) and body mass index (BMI) amongst urban poor youth in Accra, Ghana.


We studied 201 youth aged 15-24 years in three urban poor communities in Accra, Ghana. Height, weight and BP were measured in all subjects. PA levels were assessed using the Edulink Urban Health and Poverty project questionnaire. Multiple linear regression analysis was used to determine the factors influencing BP levels.


The proportion of pre-hypertension and hypertension among the youth was 32.3% and 4%, respectively. The rates of pre-hypertension (42.0 vs. 24.8) and hypertension (6.8 vs. 1.8) were higher in males than in females. More than three-quarters (84.1%) of the youth were not physically active. Females were more physically inactive compared to the males (94.7% vs. 70.5%). The average BMI was 22.8 kg/m(2). For overweight (17.7 vs. 6.8) and obesity (13.3 vs. 2.3), females had higher rates than males. BMI was positively related to systolic BP, and significantly associated with systolic BP (β = 1.4, p < 0.000 and β = 0.8, p < 0.000; respectively for male and female youth) compared to diastolic BP. Youth with low PA had raised BP.


The positive association of BMI and BP in the study communities suggests the need for health measures to tackle their increase and related public health consequences. Further studies on BP and other risk factors among the youth of rural populations and other developing countries will be important to stall the rising prevalence and implications for adult morbidity and mortality.

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