Obesity is gradually but steadily becoming a serious health problem in Tanzania and other African countries and could reach epidemic proportions in a few years.
Obesity was in the past mainly linked with developed countries. This is no longer the case as Africa is now home to millions of dangerously overweight people, and the number is increasing by the day.
It is all down to ignorance. The fact that obesity is seen in some quarters as a sign of wealth, success and even beauty only serves to fuel the problem. Many people thus prefer a fattening diet, lest they be considered sick or perpetually famished.
As a result, some will easily and unknowingly endanger their own lives by surpassing what in the experts’ view is the average Body Mass Index (BMI) of between 18.5kg and 25kg per square metre.
They also ignore exercising regularly at least five times a week to maintain their average BMI. This is despite obesity being one of the risk factors for a clutch of diseases, which threaten further an already-stretched public health delivery service.
According to the Tanzania Food and Nutrition Centre, there is a high risk of people aged between 15 and 59 dying from diseases arising from what and how they eat.
Stroke, coronary and rheumatic heart diseases are the leading causes of death and an important factor contributing to disability. Cervix, uterine and breast cancer, among women, and lung and prostate cancer, in men, are leading killers.
The shared related risk factors include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, high blood pressure and high blood lipids and blood sugar.
The good news is that these diseases are preventable. Just consider limiting sugar consumption, eating whole meal cereals, vegetables and fresh fruits; restricting animal fats; encouraging fish and vegetable oils and avoiding adding salt to prepared food.
TADB MOVE COMMENDABLE
Lake Zone farmers finally have a reason to smile as they will soon have what they have craved for years.
This follows the decision by the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank (TADB) to open a branch in Mwanza.
The bank will be providing development loans at below-market interest rates in what should be an important incentive to farmers.
TADB acting managing director Francis Assenga said recently that cheap credit would soon be available to farmers and entrepreneurs at the grassroots in the Lake Zone. This is a laudable step, and it is our belief that the farmers and entrepreneurs will seize the opportunity and transform their fortunes.
Agriculture is still regarded as the backbone of Tanzania’s economy, but it still faces numerous challenges.
Several measures have been taken to revamp the sector over the past few years, including the widely publicised Kilimo Kwanza initiative. However, not much has changed.
With the TADB loans now going to the grassroots, the country has taken an important step towards making the industrialisation goal a reality.
Agriculture and industries are two sides of the same coin. We hope the TADB loans will supplement the industrialisation push.
Much as we hail the bank’s decision, we also encourage insurance companies to expand their horizons. Farmers need to insure their crops against the vagaries of weather.