WHO issues recommendations to combat obesity in Africa

DR CONGO – The World Health Organization (WHO) has announced a range of priority measures to combat the rising trends in obesity and overweight in Africa.

The health organization has recommended government regulations such as mandatory limits on food sugar content, fiscal policies like taxing sugar-sweetened beverages including food marketing regulations such as obligatory nutrient declaration by manufacturers

The body has also urged governments to promote healthier foods for older infants and young children, to create facilities for safe, active transport and recreation as well as reinforcing public health services.

Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have partnered with the International Development Law Organization, the International Development Research Centre and the Swiss Development through a global initiative supported by WHO to further contain the growing health challenge.

The global initiative aims to develop and implement regulatory standards along with fiscal measures to promote healthy diets and physical activity in Africa.

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

1 in 5 adults as well as 1 in 10 children and teenagers are projected to be obese in 10 high-burden African countries by December 2023 if no robust measures are taken to reverse the trends, shows a new World Health Organization analysis.

The analysis comes before World Obesity Day which will be marked on 4th March under the theme “Everybody Needs to Act”.

Both overweight and obesity are abnormal or excessive fat accumulation which is a risk to health.

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

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

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

WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti revealed that Africa is facing a growing problem of obesity and overweight which is a ticking-time bomb clearly shown by the rising unhealthy trends.

Millions of people including children risk living shorter lives under the burden of poor health if the trends remain unchecked,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

However, the crisis can be resolved because many causes of obesity and overweight are preventable as well as reversible.

Significant drivers of obesity involve dietary habits such as consuming energy-dense foods, inactive lifestyles as well as lack of physical activity associated with rising urbanization or changing modes of transport in many countries.

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.

Therefore ,lowering the risk of overweight and obesity includes adopting a healthy diet such as reducing the number of calories consumed in fats and sugars and undertaking regular physical activity.

It also includes government policies that help people opt for healthier lifestyles and diets such as ensuring that healthy foods are accessible and affordable.

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