Obesity now a bigger problem than HIV AIDS in Africa

Posted on November 30, 2015 12:00 am

Obesity in the Africa has taken over HIV AIDS, Cancer and Malaria as the leading health crisis in a continent of more than one billion people. Obesity is a major growing health concern around the African continent. In most countries, a person is considered obese if their Body Mass Index exceeds 30 kilograms per square meter (kg/m2), calculated by dividing body mass in kilograms by height in meters squared.New statistics in my possession have shown that 15 per cent of people in the region are overweight or obese. As a result,various health organisations are expected to reveal and discuss the epidemic in early 2016.The report notes there’s need for lifestyle change which was becoming urgent.The study also notes that overweight and obese patients in Africa were significantly more likely to require knee replacement surgery compared to normal weight patients and is worse in younger patients.The study demonstrates that overweight and obesity are strong independent predictors of the clinical progression and by making some small changes can make an enormous difference to overall health. A lot people struggle with obesity in African countries. In fact, obesity, especially abdominal obesity increased the risk of diabetes, certain cancers, heart and other vascular disease but most importantly it was reversible with diet and exercise.The authors of the study recommends the best way to resolve obesity is to see a doctor and figure out if its diet and exercise or to make sure there aren’t other underlying medical issues. If it does turn out to be diet and exercise, most people know that diet in general is more important from a weight loss point of view.

However, diet isn’t the only thing, exercise is very important to optimise health.The authors of the report proposes that Africans eat fresh fruit and vegetables, lean meat and small amounts of low fat dairy. They also advise avoidance of processed carbohydrates, soft drinks and junk food. In urban areas, where sedentary lifestyles are common, the authors says people need to exercise at least 30 minutes five times a week or everyday until the point of puffing. The key findings in the report reveals that one-thirds of people living in major urban areas across Africa aged 16 and over were overweight last year, including 13% who were classed as being obese.In addition, about two in six children aged between three and 15 were described as being “at risk of obesity”, with a further 34% classed as being “at risk of overweight”. Nearly a third of youngsters were at risk of weighing too much, figures for 2014 showed. A total of 42% of girls aged between two and 15 were at risk of being overweight or obese, compared to 23% of boys.By the end of 2014, estimated 5% of African population were diagnosed with diabetes. Shockingly, 9 out of 10 sufferers have type 2 diabetes, which is linked to being overweight, and the prevalence of this “continues to increase steadily.Healthy eating campaigns have failed to reduce the number of cakes, sweets, biscuits and pastries that are bought by so called rich african families who are mostly living in urban areas.In 2014 shoppers in Kenya and South Africa alone, purchased 200,000 tonnes of biscuits and confectionery, with sales volumes said to have remained stable since 2012. Obesity is also one of the main drivers of early puberty in girls across Africa, and early puberty comes with physical and psychologic repercussions for the kid.

South Africa is projected to be home to more than nine million obese adults by 2017 while Kenya will have five million obese adults. Sales of cakes and pastries were also stable in 2014, with 600 million servings purchased in 2014 in Nigeria and South Africa alone. In addition, there has been “no change” in the number of adults taking enough exercise since 2013, with the figures for 2014 showing 32% of Africans aged 16 and over meeting guidelines on this.As someone familiar with more than a dozen African countries, it is extremely worrying that obesity levels continue to rise, not only amongst adults but also amongst young people. Physical activity is a vital part of all of our lives and tackling obesity by integrating more physical activity into people’s everyday lives should be a priority for African governments and leaders.There is need to take a range of actions to improve diet, reduce obesity and encourage physical activity among Africans.Those who think eating fast food is a sign of wealth in Africa, are mistaken and need “culture of change” to help shrink burgeoning waistlines, which are expanding due to an ­increase in consumption of cheap fatty foods, growing demands on time-poor residents, and the dawn of the internet and computer era.The contemporary public awareness campaigns should be publicised in the media same as HIV AIDS pandemic has and there is need to encourage people to make even small changes to their diet and daily exercise regimens to ­improve their health.From the report,the key focus areas include but not limited to ­encouraging people to eat tinier portions, consume more fruit and vegetables, drink plenty of water, sit less and be active every day.

Contador Harrison