Kenya’s readiness to deal with obesity ‘very poor’, report says


Children will have the highest burden as the report shows that their annual increase of obesity will be almost double that of adults.

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Kenya ranks poorly in the latest predictions for overweight and obese prevalence as a new report shows that about 18 per cent of Kenyans will fall in that category by the year 2035.

Out of 183 countries, the World Obesity Atlas report shows that the country’s preparedness on tackling obesity related cases ranked position 143, which is tagged as ‘very poor’.

The report indicates that 10 of the most prepared countries are in Europe, while eight of the 10 least prepared countries are on the African continent.

The estimates show that every year, between 2020 and 2035, there will be an adult increase of about five per cent of new obesity cases in the country.

Children will have the highest burden as the report shows that their annual increase of obesity will be almost double that of adults.

Ms Rosejoy Etale, nutrition expert, explained to Nation yesterday that obesity is a chronic disorder of excessive accumulation of fats in the body.

“One of the risk factors is genetics. So, if we have a population that is already obese, there is high chance that children born from the obese parents will develop obesity as well,” she said.

With the rise in cases, the researchers foresee that the economy will be hit hard, with the ripple effect being that 1.1 per cent of the GDP will be lost to obesity related impacts.

Healthcare for obese and overweight people, absenteeism at work, being unproductive at work, premature death and other health expenditures are some of the economic impacts highlighted in the report.

“Let's be clear: the economic impact of obesity is not the fault of individuals living with the disease. It is a result of high level failures to provide the environmental, healthcare, food, and support systems that we all need to live happy, healthy lives,” said World Obesity Federation CEO Johanna Ralston in a statement.

“Addressing these issues will be valuable in so many ways, to billions of people. We simply cannot afford to ignore the rising rates of obesity any longer. We hope that the findings of this latest Atlas will convince policymakers and civil society to take action and make tangible commitments to change in their regions,” she added.

At the global stage, the report shows that more than five in every 10 people in the world will either be overweight, or obese by 2035 if the current lifestyle trends remain constant. This number represents about four billion people globally.

This is against the pledge of reducing obesity by 2035 made by World Health Organisation member states 10 years ago.

It is projected that children’s overweight and obesity rates will skyrocket and double the number that was recorded three years ago at the onset of the pandemic.

“Rates are predicted to double among boys to 208 million (100 per cent increase) and more than double among girls to 175 million (125 per cent increase) and are rising more rapidly among children than adults,” shows the report.

The global economy will plummet by about $4 trillion (about Sh550 million) because of the impacts of obesity. This number represents about three per cent of the global Gross Domestic Product.

“The report emphasises the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and support people affected by the disease. It also acknowledges the impact of climate change, Covid-19 restrictions, new pandemics, and chemical pollutants on overweight and obesity and warns that without ambitious and coordinated action to address systemic issues, obesity rates could rise still further.

Prof Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, said in a statement that the latest report is a warning for governments to start addressing obesity issues because the impacts get out of hand.

“Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation,” he said