WHO, health experts worry over increasing cases of adult obesity

The World Health Organisation has warned on the continuing rise of adult obesity.

Excess weight among children under the age of five has also been a serious problem in most regions.

A recent report by WHO indicates that 40.6 million (6 per cent) of children under the age of 5 are overweight while 640.9 million (12.8 per cent) of adults are obese.

The report further states that adult obesity continues to rise everywhere, representing a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and some forms of cancer.

SPREAD RAPIDLY

North America and Europe recorded the highest cases of obesity with 27.7 per cent of its adult population being obese.

Historically, the prevalence of adult obesity has been much lower in Africa and Asia but more recently it has spread rapidly.

In Africa, the number of adults with obesity has risen from nine per cent in 2008 to 10 per cent in 2011 and 11.1 percent in 2014 as compared to Asia where it rose from 5.2 to 6.2 and 7.4 in the respective years.

Reportage in the Obesity Clinic (IPCO) in

Reportage in the Obesity Clinic (IPCO) in Mulhouse, France. Patients must attend these sessions before and after surgery for obesity. PHOTO | AMELIE-BENOIST | BSIP

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS) last year revealed that a third of women in Kenya were either obese or overweight.

MOST AFFECTED

Ms Gladys Mugambi from the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics in the Ministry of Health said women of reproductive age are the most affected by obesity.

The ministry also noted there was a shift in the trend of obesity from minors to adults mainly as a result of poor feeding habits among the adult population.

Ms Mugambi said more money should be set aside for nutrition and campaigns on proper eating habits to help deal with obesity, stunted growth and wastage adding that only 0.6 per cent of the ministry’s budget goes to nutrition.

“Cases of overweight exposes one to diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, which are very expensive for the patient and the country to treat,” she added.

FOOD

Kisii county public health officer Melitus Kabar said people are moving towards fast and processed foods that are unhealthy, leaving out healthy traditional foodstuff and vegetables.

He added that lack of physical exercise and over reliance on motorcycles and vehicles has also contributed to the increase of obese and overweight people in the country.

Dr Angwenyi Ongeri, a consultant physician and head of medicine at Galaxy Medicare Hospital in Kisii, said transformation of the food sector is an example of how the economic environment has perpetuated the rise of obesity, diabetes and NCDs in general.

He said access to convenience foods has contributed to higher rates of NCDs.  

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