Obesity is a disorder involving excessive body fat that increases the risk of health problems.It often results from consuming more calories (empty) than are burned by exercise and normal daily activities.
Obesity has been on the rise globally and leading preventable cause of death in adults and now becoming more prevalent in children. It is a major risk factor of chronic diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Once considered a problem only in high income countries, Obesity is now dramatically on the rise in low- and middle-income countries and Zambia has not been spared. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2016 an estimated 1.9 billion adults over 18 years were over weight of these 650 million were obese world-wide.
Zambia over the past two decades has seen a rise in overweight and obese population both urban and rural. This has mostly been attributed to the fatty western diet in place of “traditional” whole meal diets and sedentary life styles. As globalisation is becoming reality it is easier for African countries now to access the world market especially were motor vehicle purchasing is concerned. The traffic jam especially during peak hours in Lusaka can just give you an idea on how this has been effective. Most people now walk less and drive more. Introduction of fast food restaurants serving fatty and junk food has been on the rise. Cooking habits have also evolved people using more oil/fat instead of just steaming, boiling or roasting. The use of processed foods in place of whole meal including roller meal and vegetables.
A person is considered obese when the body mass index (BMI) is over 30kg/m2. Body mass index is measured by obtaining and dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height and has to be below 25kg/m2. The BMI between 25-30kg/m2 is considered overweight and above 30kg/m2 considered obese. Obesity can also be measured according to waist circumference and the National heart, lung and blood institute (NHLBI) classifies the risk of obesity related diseases as high if men have a waist circumference greater than 102 cm (40 in) and women waist circumference greater than 88 cm (35 in).
There is concerted effort from all citizens needed to see healthier choices made especially attaining 55 years of independence to make our country more viable. A free health check was put up at Mandahill shopping complex that served the public with free check of blood pressure, blood glucose, BMI and weight. The check was conducted by Ex-Chilonga school of nursing students who are giving back the little they can to the community by a means of sensitisation and self-health awareness. This is an ongoing project and next month will be done at a venue to be announced.
By Debbie Kalinda