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Obesity, overweight rising in Africa: WHO

Brazzaville, Congo | Xinhua | One in five adults and one in 10 children and teenagers are projected to be obese by December 2023 in 10 high-burden African countries, if no robust measures are taken to reverse the trends, said the World Health Organization (WHO) regional office for Africa on Thursday.

Prevalence of obesity among adults in the 10 high-burden African countries will range from 13.6 percent to 31 percent, while in children and adolescents, the number will range from 5 percent to 16.5 percent, said the WHO regional office for Africa in a statement, citing its latest analysis released ahead of the World Obesity Day, which falls on March 4.

“Africa is facing a growing problem of obesity and overweight, and the trends are rising. This is a ticking time bomb. If unchecked, millions of people, including children, risk living shorter lives under the burden of poor health,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

Overweight has been associated with severe disease and the need for hospitalization with COVID-19. While no data is available yet for Africa, a study published by the Journal of Infection and Public Health found that of the 2.5 million COVID-19 deaths reported globally by the end of February 2021, 2.2 million were in countries where more than half the population is classified as overweight.

Through a global initiative supported by WHO, the International Development Law Organization, the International Development Research Centre and the Swiss Development Cooperation, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are being supported to develop and implement regulatory standards and fiscal measures to promote healthy diets and physical activity.

In 2022, WHO will work with 10 more high-burden African countries for accelerated obesity reduction initiatives, according to the statement.

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Xinhua

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