fat obesity

Hiyo Ni Momo: Kenyan women ‘among the most obese in Africa at 9th’

Kenyan women are among the most obese in Africa, a new report suggests.

Among the 36 African countries sampled, Kenyan women ranked ninth.

The report, Nutrition in the WHO African Region, was released last week by the World Health Organization.

It shows the most unhealthy weight gain is found among the Swazi and Lesotho women.
South Africa is not listed — although it is known to have the worst cases of obesity.

The least obese women are found in Ethiopia, Madagascar and Burundi — nutritionists feel this largely has to do with malnutrition, rather than healthy living.

“Overweight or obesity in mothers increases the risk in their offspring of high birth weight and subsequent childhood overweight,” the report says.

According to the Ministry of Health, average overweight rate among Kenyan women is 33 per cent, which is attributed to poor nutrition.
Women in Nairobi and Kirinyaga counties are the most overweight.

Head of Nutrition and Dietics Unit Gladys Mugambi said about 47 per cent of women in these two counties are either obese or overweight. This is among the highest levels in Africa.

“Cases of overweight expose one to diseases like high blood pressure and diabetes, which are very expensive for the county and the patient to treat,” Mugambi said last week during a meeting with health workers on capacity development for nutrition.

The WHO report says the percentage of women classified as overweight — including obesity — in Africa averages 23.8 per cent.

The range is from 5.7 per cent in Ethiopia to 50.6 per cent in Swaziland.

WHO said data for this indicator are available for 36 countries — as found in surveys dated between 2000 and 2015.
In all, 12 countries have a prevalence rate of more than 30 per cent, while Gabon, Ghana and Lesotho have more than 40 per cent.

“We are getting wealthier. Unfortunately, we are not eating correctly and we have a big problem with physical activity. I wish Kenyans were more active and could eat better,” Deputy director of Medical Services Peter Cherutich said last Friday.

“We have a long way to go in improving our nutritional status and reducing our consumption of sugar, alcohol and other unhealthy substances.”

Lead author of the Report, Dr Adelheid Onyango, who is WHO Africa’s adviser on nutrition, says the obesity epidemic affects all age groups.

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-The Star/ John Muchangi

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