[The Activism Blog] Obese children are Africa’s silent epidemic, what are we doing about it?


The world health Organization in its recent global nutrition report states that a quarter of the world’s 41 million overweight children (10, 250, 000) under five live in Africa, a figure that has nearly doubled on the continent in the last two decades. As a result of this, the WHO said non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, most of which are obesity-related, are expected to become the biggest killer in Africa by 2030.

This timely warning by WHO is not new, we have simply chosen to ignore it thus far. Obesity is on the rise. This is generally propelled by the mass entry of fast food chains seeking to expand their market share into African countries. Exercise, the traditional counter to obesity is a luxury in Africa, gym equipment is expensive and electricity operated. Added to that is the astronomical rent that needs to be paid. As a result, exercise is inaccessible to the majority who actually need it. Even in schools where Physical Health Education and gymnasiums should be readily accessible have had to cut down to only theoretical subjects because of a two pronged lack of adequately trained instructors and equipment.

Today, many schools around us don’t have playgrounds for children to exercise their bodies. The WHO predicts that obesity will become a full blown epidemic in Africa by 2030, but from what we can see, that epidemic might be at least a decade early.

By the time this generation of obese children reach their teens, they’d have developed some form of cardiovascular diseases that are life long and need to be maintained with expensive medicine.

This report by WHO should not be seen as an ordinary report but a wake up call to the African continent on what to do to avoid an impending disaster to preserve the future of these children exposed to obesity.

We’ve seen obese children as the ones enjoying themselves while the non obese are seen otherwise. It has reached a point African countries combat obesity before the repercussions crept in finally.

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