A tea farmer (right) has her blood pressure checked during a free medical camp at Rukuriri tea factory in Embu County organised by Kenya Tea Development Agency. (Joseph Muchiri, Standard)
Poor eating habits are predisposing many people in tea growing areas to lifestyle diseases. This is despite their active daily routine.
Medics came to this finding during a three-day medical camp at Rukuriri Tea Factory in Embu where six out of every 10 people examined, were found either obese, overweight or underweight.
The findings intrigued doctors considering majority of the over 1,500 people who attended the camp are tea farmers or workers who spend their days tending their bushes or picking leaves.
Ten out of the 500 women screened were diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Some of the farmers were diagnosed with diabetes, high blood pressure and other ailments that they were oblivious of.
Embu East public health nurse Lucy Muriithi said farmers who were overweight despite leading active lifestyles were as a result of poor eating habits.
“Many farmers take bread and tea with little milk as breakfast and then eat a doughnut as lunch. In the evening because they are tired, they buy sliced cabbage mixed with carrots and white rice,” she said.
They consume large servings as supper worsening the situation. If they take balanced diets in the right proportions they could avoid lifestyle diseases,” she said.
Esther Igoki, 60, and Esra Gichuku, 70, who were found to be overweight expressed shock, arguing that they lead active lifestyles and consume mainly non-processed foods.
“I don’t drink sodas. I prefer millet porridge as doctors advised. For breakfast, I eat arrowroots, sweet potatoes and ripe bananas. I boil most of my food,” said Ms Igoki.