Somaliland: The Cost of Obesity and How to Stop It

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obesity is now a global problem

Somalilandsun- Malnutrition is a costly and deadly problem in Africa, but the other end of the spectrum can be dangerous as well. Obesity is a growing epidemic across the globe and is drastically affecting the health and welfare of people of all ages. The obese are not the only ones who suffer, however, as the rising costs of the obesity epidemic deprive governments and their citizens of increasing amounts of money that they could spend elsewhere. Without action, the problem will continue to grow.

Nutritional Considerations  

Obesity, the condition of being grossly overweight, may not be the first problem people associate with Africa. However, much like with the rest of the world, it is a growing issue in the region. Obesity occurs in Africa because of the increased consumption of foods that are high in fat, high in sugar and highly processed. This shift in diet combined with reduced consumption of fruit and vegetables as well as a decrease in physical activities has led to increasing rates of obesity, especially in urban areas.

The result is not merely a more overweight populace. 

Overweight is directly linked to the increased risk of a broad range of severe health complications. Heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cancer are caused by obesity and significantly increase the likelihood of premature death. Costs related to obesity cost the world’s economy $2 trillion annually, putting it in the top three burdens on global GDP.

Lack of Education

Unfortunately, there is no one thing that the world can do to fight the growing obesity epidemic; governments and citizens must take many and varied steps. It is a misconception that obesity affects only the wealthy, as poorer populations are more susceptible to it. This situation is due to poor education about nutrition and reduced access to more nutritionally balanced and fresh food. Besides increased nutrition education, especially for school-age children, information campaigns can help curtail obesity by encouraging the consumption of healthier foods.

obesity trends  

Making Information More Accessible

At the government level, better labeling for food will help populations make better decisions about diet and restructuring of urban and education environments can encourage more physical activities. Changing regulations and guidelines to reduce both portion sizes and the availability of unhealthy foods will help citizens adopt healthier lifestyles. Perhaps above all, however, more research and information is required to innovate more and better ideas to combat obesity.

Neither individual citizens, corporations nor governments can stem the tide of weight gain alone. It will require time, money and cooperation from all areas of society. However, the return on investment will be significant for all involved by reducing healthcare costs and increasing productivity.

The author Jane Sandwood <jane.sandwood@lumenmail.net>; is a freelance writer

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