Obesity Likely to Affect 1 in 10 Children in Africa by 2023; WHO

By Soko Directory Team / Published March 3, 2022 | 1:23 pm




KEY POINTS

Lack of strong policies in key sectors including health, agriculture, urban planning, and environment to support healthier lifestyles also contributes to growing obesity and overweight in many countries.


Obesity

KEY TAKEAWAYS


Lowering the risk of overweight and obesity includes adopting a healthy diet such as reducing the number of calories consumed in fats and sugars.


There is an imminent problem of obesity in Africa. An analysis by the World Health Organization (WHO) shows that 1 in 5 adults and 1 in 10 children and teenagers are projected to be obese by December 2023 in 10 high-burden African countries if no robust measures are taken to reverse the trends.

The WHO analysis finds that the prevalence of obesity among adults in the 10 high-burden countries will range from 13.6 percent to 31 percent, while in children and adolescents it will range from 5 percent to 16.5 percent.

Africa also faces a growing problem of overweight in children. In 2019, the continent was home to 24 percent of the world’s overweight children aged under 5.

Being overweight has been associated with severe disease and the need for hospitalization with COVID-19.

There is no data available yet for Africa for this case. However, a study published by the Journal of Infection and Public Health found that of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported globally by the end of February 2021, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.

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“Africa is facing a growing problem of obesity and overweight, and the trends are rising. This is a ticking time bomb. If unchecked, millions of people, including children, risk living shorter lives under the burden of poor health,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

“But we can resolve the crisis because many of the causes of obesity and overweight are preventable and reversible,” she added.

Dietary habits such as consuming energy-dense foods, sedentary lifestyles, or lack of physical activity associated with rising urbanization or changing modes of transport in many countries are significant drivers of obesity.

Lack of strong policies in key sectors including health, agriculture, urban planning, and environment to support healthier lifestyles also contributes to growing obesity and overweight in many countries.

To combat obesity and overweight, WHO recommends a range of priority measures including government regulations such as mandatory limits on food sugar content.

Fiscal policies, for example, taxing sugar-sweetened beverages and food marketing regulations such as an obligatory nutrient declaration by manufacturers will go a long way in helping prevent obesity.

The same goes for promoting healthier foods for older infants and young children; creating facilities for safe, active transport and recreation as well as reinforcing public health services.

Through a global initiative supported by WHO, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda are being supported to develop and implement regulatory standards and fiscal measures to promote healthy diets and physical activity.

In 2022, WHO will work with 10 more high-burden African countries for accelerated obesity reduction initiatives.

Being obese or overweight raises the risk of suffering cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, muscle, and skeletal disorders as well as some types of cancer.

Among children, being overweight is associated with a higher chance of obesity, premature death, and disability in adulthood.

Lowering the risk of overweight and obesity includes adopting a healthy diet such as reducing the number of calories consumed in fats and sugars.

Also, undertaking regular physical activity as well as government policies that help people opt for healthier lifestyles and diets, for instance, by ensuring that healthy foods are accessible and affordable is another measure.




About Soko Directory Team

Soko Directory is a Financial and Markets digital portal that tracks brands, listed firms on the NSE, SMEs and trend setters in the markets eco-system.Find us on Facebook: facebook.com/SokoDirectory and on Twitter: twitter.com/SokoDirectory

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