Kenyan women ranked 9th most overweight in Africa

Kenyan women ranked 9th most overweight in Africa

No one will at any given time wish to be associated with obesity. While many look down at obese people,it has also become a risk factor for non-communicable diseases and is included among the nine voluntary targets for 2025 in the Global NCD Action Plan.

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It will surprise many to learn that Kenyan women are the ninth most overweight in Africa, according to World Health Organization (WHO).Swaziland was ranked first,followed by  Lesotho, Gabon, Ghana, Mauritania, Comoros, Zimbabwe, Sao Tome and Kenya lead in that order.

According the ‘The Star’the report used data from national surveys of 47 countries dating as far back as 2000 to 2016. The research involved women aged 18 to 49.The Africa Nutrition Report by the World Health Organization states that the percentage of women classified as overweight in the region stands at a median of 23.8 per cent.

The range is from 5.7 per cent in Ethiopia to 50.6 per cent in Swaziland, Kenya’s being 32.8 per cent. Sao Tome recorded a 33.7 per cent rate, Zimbabwe 34.9, Comoros 36.3, Mauritania 38.4,  Lesotho 44.6,Ghana 40.1 and Gabon 44.1 per cent.

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Six countries have a prevalence rate of below 15 per cent and include Burkina Faso with 11.2  per cent, Burundi with 7.5, Chad at 11.5, Eritrea at 8.9, Ethiopia at 5.7 per cent and Madagascar with 6.3 per cent.

According to the report released on November 16, one in three adult women are overweight and the rate stands at 40 per cent.It notes: “Obesity is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases and is included among the nine voluntary targets for 2025 in the Global NCD Action Plan.”

WHO says that for overweight mothers, the risk of high birth weight and subsequent childhood overweight is higher for their children.Kenya was ranked 23rd (4.1 per cent) among 47 countries where a growing number of children under five years old are overweight. The median prevalence is 4.1 per cent. The report has urged proper diet and psycho-social stimulation right from childhood to prevent obese.

Countries with the least underweight children are Senegal, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Benin, Nigeria, Central African Republic and Eritrea.”For the two child malnutrition indicators where trends are analysed annually, the number of stunted children in the region is increasing rather than decreasing,” reads the report.

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WHO regional director Matshidiso Moetit says Africa needs to work harder to avoid the long-term consequences of malnutrition and poor health on children’s future.

The report points out that while the prevalence of stunted growth decreased in the research period, the absolute numbers of stunted children increasing. The figure in 2000 was 50.4 million while 58.5 million cases were recorded in 2016.

Stunting, or impaired growth and development, happens when children experience poor nutrition, disease and lack of psycho-social stimulation.

It typically occurs before a child reaches age two and long-term consequences include poor school performance, low adult wages, lost productivity and increased risk of nutrition-related chronic diseases in adults.

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Adelheid Onyango, WHO Africa’s Adviser for Nutrition, says while overweight rates in children might still be low, the proportion and numbers are increasing in all age groups.

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