Call for stricter laws on un­healthy foods

The Herald (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Paidamoyo Chipunza

THE World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion has called for strin­gent laws and poli­cies on mar­ket­ing and sell­ing of un­healthy foods to dis­cour­age peo­ple from con­sum­ing them amid rev­e­la­tions that the num­ber of di­a­betes cases con­tin­ues to rise.

In a state­ment re­leased to mark this year’s World Di­a­betes Day, com­mem­o­rated ev­ery year on Novem­ber 14, WHO re­gional di­rec­tor Dr Mat­shidiso Moeti said glob­ally, there has been a rise in the num­ber of obe­sity in chil­dren and ado­les­cent.

In Africa, Dr Moeti said the num­ber of chil­dren who are over­weight or obese has nearly dou­bled since 1990, in­creas­ing from 5,4 mil­lion to 10,3 mil­lion.

Ac­cord­ing to the WHO, over­weight and obese chil­dren are likely to be­come over­weight and obese adults.

In the African re­gion, in 2014, it was es­ti­mated that 22,9 per­cent of men and 38,6 per­cent of women above the age of 18 were obese.

“Over­weight and obe­sity are risk fac­tors for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease, di­a­betes and some can­cers in later life. Over­weight and obese chil­dren and ado­les­cents also ex­pe­ri­ence psycho-so­cial prob­lems such as bul­ly­ing, stigma and poor ed­u­ca­tion at­tain­ment,” said Dr Moeti.

She at­trib­uted the grow­ing num­bers of over­weight and obese to poor di­ets, which she said was a re­sult of ag­gres­sive mar­ket­ing of foods rich in fats, sugar, and salt as well as in­ad­e­quate phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity among chil­dren, ado­les­cents and adults.

Dr Moeti said as a re­sult of these chal­lenges, it was ad­vis­able for gov­ern­ments to put in place strict mea­sures to pro­tect peo­ple from con­sum­ing these un­healthy foods.

“Poli­cies that in­crease avail­abil­ity of nu­tri­tious and healthy foods such as fruits and veg­eta­bles should be pro­moted. Fis­cal mea­sures should be taken to in­crease the price of foods high in fat, sugar and salt in or­der to re­duce their con­sump­tion,” said Dr Moeti. She said to re­duce preva­lence of di­a­betes, a life-course ap­proach should also be taken from early ages of child­hood up to adult­hood.

“Phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity should be pro­moted in ev­ery set­ting in­clud­ing at home, school, city walk­ways, streets, roads and at the work place,” she said.

Dr Moeti said the WHO will con­tinue to sup­port Gov­ern­ments in their ef­forts to im­prove the pre­ven­tion and con­trol of di­a­betes and other non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases.

Di­a­betes is when a per­son’s blood glu­cose or sugar lev­els are too low or too high.

In Zim­babwe, the Zim­babwe Di­a­betic As­so­ci­a­tion es­ti­mates that 10 per­cent of non com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases were di­a­betic cases.

How­ever, ma­jor­ity of di­a­betes cases go un­no­ticed as most peo­ple do not know that they are di­a­betic.

Di­a­betes can lead to high rates of ill health, dis­abil­ity and pre­ma­ture deaths.

It has se­vere health com­pli­ca­tions such as blind­ness, kid­ney fail­ure, neu­ropa­thy, dis­abil­ity and pre­ma­ture death.

It also has se­ri­ous eco­nomic con­se­quences which in­clude loss of pro­duc­tiv­ity and high health care costs.

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