Africa and Obesity
“Rapid urbanization and associated changes in people’s lifestyle means Africa faces a growing obesity problem. Across the continent the share of the urban population is projected to increase to 50% by 2030 and 60% by 2050.
Looking at the Africa trends as stipulated by one of my esteemed colleagues, we have a vested interest, as a company to formally educate our people on the health risks involved being Diabetic or even Insulin Resistant.
Increased urbanization is associated with lifestyle changes such as decreased physical activity. This is often accompanied by increased intake of high caloric fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages. This combination has contributed to the rising burden of obesity in towns and cities in developing countries.
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See the statistics on these health issues to understand the importance of taking education and product to the market place.
Obesity is a serious public health problem because it significantly increases the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary heart diseases as well as certain cancers. It also puts considerable strain on healthcare and social resources.
Why obesity is a problem
For women of reproductive age, the consequences of being obese are more serious.
Studies have shown that:
- Maternal obesity is bad for both the mother and the unborn child.
- It can lead to higher rates of miscarriage, still-births and congenital anomalies.
- Can also result in gestational diabetes, which is marked by high blood sugar levels during pregnancy. These usually disappear after delivery.
- Another inherent risk is pre-eclampsia, a condition that affects some pregnant women and usually sets in 20 weeks into pregnancy.
- Obesity during pregnancy can also affect health later for both mother and child.
- Children of obese mothers also have a risk of future obesity.
Obesity in Africa
To understand the scale of the obesity problem in Africa, we analysed demographic and health survey data from 24 African countries over 25 years. The analysis shows increases in obesity levels in all 24 countries over the 25 year period. The increases were statistically significant in 17 countries. Based on the latest surveys we found that four countries had an obesity prevalence that was above 20% while the rest ranged between 10% and 19% among urban women of reproductive age in the countries studied.
Comparing these data with earlier surveys it is clear that obesity levels among urban women have worsened in the past two-and-a-half decades.
Two out of every five Egyptians (39%) are obese, followed by Ghana at 22%. Egypt and Ghana also experienced a significant increase in obesity over the past 25 years. From 34% to 39% (13% increase) in Egypt and 8% to 22% in Ghana (65% increase). The increase in obesity doubled in Kenya, Benin, Niger, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Uganda, while Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali, Malawi and Tanzania experienced a three-fold increase.
Given the magnitude of the increase in obesity levels among urban women in the countries studied, we argue strongly that governments should take urgent steps to address the problem. There is a direct link between obesity and the rise in non-communicable diseases. Addressing obesity will be an important step towards curbing the surge of lifestyle diseases that the continent is experiencing. This calls for deliberate policies and interventions geared to encouraging people living in urban areas to adopt healthy diets. Also increase physical activity and reduce weight.
Strategies should include policy interventions to address over-consumption of unhealthy diets.
This may include
- Fiscal food policies
- mandatory nutrition panels on the formulation and reformulation of manufactured foods
- implementation of food and nutrition labeling
- restricting marketing
- advertising bans of unhealthy foods and making healthy food accessible.