The prevalence of metabolic syndrome among Ghanaian migrants and their homeland counterparts: the Research on Obesity and type 2 Diabetes among African Migrants (RODAM) study

Eur J Public Health. 2019 Oct 1;29(5):906-913. doi: 10.1093/eurpub/ckz051.


Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) is an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes. It is unknown whether the MetSyn prevalence differs within a homogenous population residing in different settings in Africa and Europe. We therefore assessed the prevalence of MetSyn among Ghanaians living in rural- and urban-Ghana and Ghanaian migrants living in Europe.

Methods: We used data from the cross-sectional multi-centre RODAM study that was conducted among Ghanaian adults aged 25-70 years residing in rural- and urban-Ghana and in London, Amsterdam and Berlin (n = 5659). MetSyn was defined according to the 2009 harmonized definition. Geographical locations were compared using age-standardized prevalence rates, and prevalence ratios (PRs), adjusted for age, education, physical activity, and smoking and stratified for sex.

Results: In men, the age-standardized prevalence of MetSyn was 8.3% in rural Ghana and showed a positive gradient through urban Ghana (23.6%, adjusted PR = 1.85, 95% confidence interval 1.17-2.92) to Europe, with the highest prevalence in Amsterdam (31.4%; PR = 4.45, 2.94-6.75). In women, there was a rural-to-urban gradient in age-standardized MetSyn prevalence (rural Ghana 25%, urban Ghana 34.4%, PR = 1.38, 1.13-1.68), but small differences in MetSyn prevalence between urban-Ghanaian and European-Ghanaian women (Amsterdam 38.4%; London 38.2%).

Conclusion: MetSyn is highly prevalent in Ghana as well as in Ghanaian migrants in Europe. To assist prevention efforts, further research is needed to understand the mechanisms driving the geographical differences in MetSyn prevalence between migrant and non-migrant Ghanaians.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / ethnology
  • Emigrants and Immigrants / statistics & numerical data*
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Ghana / ethnology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / epidemiology
  • Obesity / ethnology
  • Prevalence