GlobalHealthAfrica

Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Fast Foods and Wider Waistlines. Will the Future Generation Require Bigger Sized Clothes?

In Nutrition on October 12, 2012 at 2:39 am

Just recently, we wrote about undernutrition in Chad. This time, we will be spotlighting the reverse case, Overnutrition. Urbanization on the African continent is slowly leading to an adoption of fast foods. Fast foods are mainly high energy dense foods which have been linked to weight gain and obesity in the West. A 1998 study of 13,089 men and women in South Africa classified 29.2% of the men and 56.6% of the women as either overweight or obese. In the same study, Urban women were found to have the highest rates of obesity.

In contrast to the West, Fast Food Chains enjoy an “aspirational” image on the African continent. For instance, when a branch of KFC opened its doors in Nairobi last year, customers were willing to queue up for 90 minutes for the fried chicken.  African nations are becoming an emerging market for these Fast Food Chains. Recently, MacDonald, the US fast food giant, announced that in 2011, 22% of its profits came from Africa, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Are we going to see wider waistlines in the future generation?

Nutrition Crisis in Africa’s Sahel Region

In Nutrition, Uncategorized on September 25, 2012 at 12:30 am

“My other children were able to walk when they were 8 months old, but not Ereta,” said Zaïnabou Mamataya. At 8 months, Ereta weighed only 2.6 kg and was admitted to hospital in Nokou, Western Chad’s Kanem Region.

According to UNICEF, the Kanem region in Chad has been affected by the food and nutrition crisis afflicting Africa’s Sahel area. Since the beginning of 2012, with poor rains continuing to affect agricultural output, the nutrition situation has been deteriorating in Chad. This is devastating for thousands like Ereta. Food is the most basic need for human survival, and a food crisis in the early stages of child development can lead to serious complications including stunted growth, poor mental health and much more. UNICEF reports that an estimated 127,000 children in Chad will be at risk of severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition, this year. The organization is now increasing its support to hospitals and health centers in the Kanem region, providing them with the supplies to treat malnutrition.

UNICEF is also working on prevention, which is important. As public health professionals, our goal is to tackle the underlying causes of malnutrition. Roger Sodjinou, UNICEF Chad Nutrition Officer, states “people have an unbalanced diet, mainly based on cereal. Mothers don’t think of practicing exclusive maternal breastfeeding.” It is not surprising because Chad has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world: only 3 in every 100 women exclusively breastfeed their babies. Breastfeeding is proven to be most beneficial for babies and this poses a public health concern in Chad. UNICEF reports that an estimated 13 percent of all deaths among children under age 5 could be prevented with breastfeeding. In addition, many children in Chad are fed unsafe water that can cause diarrhea and other illnesses.

In order to work toward a healthier future, raising awareness about the benefits of exclusive breastfeeding should be continued in Chad. Despite poor rains in Chad, the incidence of the nutrition crisis can reduce if breastfeeding rates increase. As the quote reads: “small change produces big impact.”

Culled from UNICEF

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