Reports that close to a third of the adult population in Kenya is overweight or obese is worrying and needs urgent attention.
We urgently need to change our ways as a society, otherwise, obesity might snowball into a crisis that will erode most households’ income due to diseases associated with being overweight and obese such as hypertension and diabetes.
Official data shows that there were 1.5 million cases of hypertension among people aged five and above in 2020. High blood pressure is commonly described as a silent killer, with deaths from the disease rising to 5,799 in 2015 from 4,605 in 2010. This figure then dropped to 5,353 in 2016- the last period when this data was made publicly available.
Something needs to be done, both at the individual and national level, to stem what is turning into a health crisis.
We need to start with our children and initiate them into the culture of eating vegetables. We also need to the off the TV and mobile phone screens and send to the playfields.
Adults should also get more physically active by jogging, walking, running and even going to gyms.
In this respect, the government must ensure that every residential estate has got open spaces-most have already been grabbed-where people can engage in physical activities.
Ensuring that all Kenyans have access to nutritious food might be one of the pillars of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda. However, increasing the production of fruits and vegetables as a means of promoting a healthy diet did not feature in the first 2018 Budget Policy Statement which unveiled the five-year plan.
The government needs to also take deliberate steps to identify the nutritional value of indigenous foods and encourage people to eat them. Educating Kenyans about this obesity and how to tackle it is the first step to winning the war against the looming 'pandemic'.