Health Matters

South Africa: Obesity More Dangerous than HIV

An outbreak of the disease secretly attacks Africans and is considered more severe than HIV disease. Of the 20 countries with the fastest growing obesity, nearly half of them are countries in Africa. As a result, health problems on the continent are increasing.

Africa is often described as a continent where people suffer from hunger and poverty. It seems that this portrait underwent a change. Obesity is now a huge health challenge, especially in lower and middle class people in big cities. Obesity in adults has experienced a significant increase, especially in eight of the 20 countries in Africa.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes obesity or overweight as an accumulation of abnormal or excessive fat that can pose a risk to human health. Excess fat in certain parts of the body can trigger the emergence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease or even stroke. In addition, it can also trigger cancers such as breast, colon, kidney, ovarian and others.

For most Africans, having a distended stomach means showing rich and prosperous status, but of course that is wrong. Apart from stomach tumors or other diseases, a distended stomach is actually a sign of poor nutrition and lack of exercise. In fact, the cause of death is more caused by obesity than underweight.

Heavy load

The problem of obesity is a heavy burden for the health sector which is struggling with the problem of infectious diseases in Africa. Obesity is one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes suffered by most people in Africa.

In 2018, The Lancet Journal on Diabetes & Endocrinology revealed that the prevalence of diabetes in Africa has increased by 129% since 1980. What’s more, the economic burden to deal with diabetes is expected to increase to nearly $ 60 billion by 2030 in sub-Saharan Africa.

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A study states that excess fat around the waist can interfere with the effectiveness of insulin. Insulin is an important hormone produced by the pancreas to regulate sugar levels in the body, produced by breaking down glucose and turning it into energy. An overweight body can inhibit this metabolic process and increase the risk of developing diabetes.

Recently, a group of researchers stated that supermarkets were the cause of the obesity crisis in Africa. Middle class people prefer to buy processed foods that contain sugar and fat rather than eating fresh and healthy food.

Government Policy

To deal with the problem of obesity, people need to return to a healthy diet. Examples of healthy foods include vegetables, nuts, fruit and the like. Instead of eating burgers and soft drinks, it’s better to replace it with fish meat, vegetables and fruits.

One effective way to deal with obesity is through government policy. In South Africa, for example, the government imposes a sweet drink tax to reduce consumption of calorie soft drinks. This policy has succeeded in reducing consumption and obesity rates in the country.

WHO states more than 2 billion people in the world are overweight. 650 million of them suffer from obesity. With the number of sufferers increasing every year, WHO urges governments and international organizations to take immediate action in dealing with this dangerous disease.

Not only the government must take action, the community must also immediately move to a healthy lifestyle. Some ways that can be done is to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. If both parties have successfully played their role, then the number of people with obesity and diabetes in Africa can be reduced.

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