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Study show that most Kenyan women are obese or overweight

 Photo; Courtesy

One in three women in Kenya is either overweight or obese, with Central Kenya having the highest number of reported cases.

According to Gladys Mugambi of the Ministry of Health's Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, the most affected by obesity are women of reproductive health age.

Kirinyaga leads with half of the women being overweight or obese, surpassing the national average, which shows that one-third of all women suffer from weight problems. Murang'a, Nyeri and Kiambu follow each other in that order.

Quoting the findings of the Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014, Ms Mugambi said Nairobi region is second with obese and overweight women.

Speaking during a nutrition workshop in Nairobi yesterday, she said malnutrition was not just a health problem but also a social and development issue, which needs a collaborative approach.

"Malnutrition is increasing the health problem that Kenya has to contend with currently, and is the leading cause of heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, among other non-communicable diseases," she said.

The ministry's research focused on women but Mugambi said men are no better and a research will be initiated to find out the extent of the same problem among men.

"The study involved women but we shall do another research that will focus on men," she said, adding that cases of obesity are challenges that Kenya must tackle.

Some of the leading causes of the weight problem include diet and physical inactivity.

The ministry will do a more conclusive research to ascertain the reason why Central region is leading in the problem.

"It could be because of diet, physical inactivity or genetics but we cannot conclude that unless a study is conducted to find the underlying issue," she said.

Malnutrition among children also remains a challenge, with Christopher Maina, the medical manager for Merck, Central Africa saying it was the reason the World Health Organization (WHO) had recommended Vitamin supplementation in all children.

"Malnutrition is about quality, not quantity and nutrition is medicine," said Mr. Maina.

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