Murang’a residents urged to embrace healthy lifestyles to avoid obesity

A Murang’a nutritionist has urged adults to make more health conscious decisions when choosing their diet and embrace physical activity to avoid obesity.

Murang’a County Nutrition Coordinator, Nancy Mwangi, stated that it is recommended that adults should engage in 150 minutes of physical activity per day, while children should get at least one hour.

“Modern lifestyles do not allow time for much physical activity, therefore, individuals have to make the decisions to be more physically active,” Mwangi said.

Mwangi emphasized that it is the duty of parents and caregivers of children, to also make healthier food choices right from the homestead by eating more fruits, vegetables and legumes such as beans, while avoiding highly processed food and soft drinks, in order to avoid obesity in children.

“Intake of processed foods has increased mainly because such food is easier to prepare and people tend to forget how unhealthy it can be,” she noted.

The World Health Organization defines obesity as the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, that presents a risk to health.

She also recommended that the government to regulate sale and advertisement of processed foods and drinks, saying the manufacturers of such soft drinks should be required to have a disclaimer, stating they are potentially harmful to the health of the consumer.

“The government should make it a requirement that manufacturers of processed foods and drinks to indicate that they are harmful just as they do with cigarettes and alcohol,” she stated.

She also noted that institutions of learning and even work places, should encourage physical activity, which will in turn increase productivity.

Ms. Mwangi observed that there was a need for community education on the dangers of obesity at every level and at every opportunity, in order to prevent obesity right from childhood.

She stated that it is important for adults to check their body mass index (BMI), which is a measure of how their body fat is distributed over their height and weight or a measure of how dense their bodies are.

“For adults a BMI over 25 is considered overweight and that over 30 is obese,” Mwangi stated.

According to the nutritionist, there are many risk factors that expose someone to obesity or make someone prone to be obese.

“Obesity can be genetic where by factor of one’s genes they are more likely to be obese, even when they eat generally healthy food,” she said.

Mwangi observed that other common causes are metabolic disorders where the body is more likely to store food as fat, instead of converting it to energy and high intake of energy dense foods, that are likely to be stored as fat, if the body doesn’t need as much energy.

She observed that there has also been a decrease in physical activity, as people generally lead sedentary lifestyles, something that has been made easier by the changing modes of transport like motorcycles and taxis that people now use to travel even over short distances instead of walking.

The nutritionist cautioned that obesity has serious repercussions on health and general wellbeing of individuals saying it is the leading cause of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

Obesity could also lead to diabetes and hypertension as well as arthritis, some of the common cancers as well as premature death.



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