Obesity in Ghana

The United Nations (UN ) Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has identified obesity and overweight as major health risks in West Africa, an official has said.

Mphumuzi Sukati Senior Nutrition and Food Systems Officer at FAO said in an interview here on Wednesday that the numbers were beginning to reach worrying levels.

“This is an emerging problem and if it is not attacked and stopped in its track before it gets more serious it will threaten our development goals going forward,” he told Xinhua.

The problem he said was mainly seen among urban dwellers and it is also occurring in children , painting a very gloomy picture if it was not addressed as soon as possible.

According to the official who opened the ongoing three-days multi-stakeholder consultation on nutrition for West African countries the growing phenomenon is mainly due to urbanization resulting in the lack of healthy nutrition choices.

The theme of the conference being held in Accra is “Addressing the Emerging Overweight and Obesity Public Health Challenges in West Africa.

“People do not have time to cook at home. The traditional meals are going away, and people because of the pressures of work, are resorting to fast food in urban areas, they don’t have time to exercise,” Sukati observed,.

He blamed the phenomenon in children also on the contrast between the past when children used to be out there playing in the field, and the current situation where due to technology and temperature children most of the time were indoors with their iPads and watching Television.

“How can we get small-scale farmers come into the urban food systems supplying foods that is healthy, nutritional instead of depending on the fast food outlets where the food sources

“… So FAO has a big role to play because this is a food systems problem which manifests itself as a health problem,” he added.

Medical science has linked obesity to some health issues such as heart problems, hypertension, and diabetes.

Meanwhile the situation seemed to be gaining ground among Ghanaians with the phenomenon of urbanization playing a key role.

Ghana is number two in the whole of West Africa in terms of obese people. And that is very disturbing because there is like 1.2 million people in Ghana who are considered obese and that is a high number considering that your population is about 28 million and 29 million, said Daisy Leoncio Senior Communications Officer , FAO Regional Office for Africa,

“Urbanization especially in Ghana has gone on a massive scale and our lifestyle has changed in the last 10 years to 20 years. And the other thing is access to food which are energy-laden. They are very dense they are very packed, but is very high in sugar. What you call empty nutrition,” Leoncio noted.

She urged that people adopt healthy dietary regimes, and exercise more, while children are taken out to play as much as possible.

Pauline Addy, Acting Director of Women in Agriculture Development who spoke on behalf of the Minister for Food and Agriculture, underscored the need to interrogate food systems, especially in urban areas.

This, she said was critical since over-nutrition was becoming part of the nutrition challenges facing humankind, Ennditem.

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