In Africa, the urban poor battle with weight matters

Monday December 28 2009

Who says obesity is a disease for the rich?

It is estimated that about half of the urban population in Africa is either overweight or obese and by 2025,  three quarters of the global obese population will be in poor third world countries.

A new study, Overweight and Obesity in Urban Africa, demonstrates that waistlines on the continent have been expanding seven times faster among the poor than the rich.

The study tracked data from several African countries including Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Lead researcher Abdhalah K Ziraba blames it on the easy access to greasy food in the slums.

Poor urban women in Kenya lead the heavyweights club with 38 per cent considered obese, closely followed by those in Ghana and Niger at 35 per cent.

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This could turn out to be a weighty problem as obesity is a well recognised risk factor for various chronic health problems such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and certain cancers.

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Nude cyclists get ‘misguided’ warning

Two men caught riding around nude at the seaside resort of Whangamata, on the northeastern coast of New Zealand, got off with a warning to wear protective gear on their heads. 

According to the BBC, local policewoman Cathy Duder was unfazed when she came across the two, both in their early 20s and decidedly sober.

“They were more shocked than I was, trying to cover up their bits and pieces with their hands,” she said.  

However, they should have been covering up elsewhere. Ms Duder issued them with a reprimand for not wearing helmets and then sent the pair, who claimed they only wanted to experience “total freedom,” directly home.

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Israeli professors take lectures to new level

Big cuts in Israel’s budget for higher education have forced professors from one university in Jerusalem to deliver lectures aboard public transport.

“We think that the public in Israel, and the government, don’t always understand enough why higher education is important, what research is and who the researchers are,” explained university spokeswoman Orit Sulitzeanu.

So the Hebrew University in November launched the initiative to put its academics to work “on the rails.” 

Subjects have varied from science to history and the audience has generally been receptive though one lecturer, Prof Hanoch Gutfreund, noted that while he was accustomed to students walking out of lectures, this was the first time they did so because they had reached their stop.

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Goose gets season’s goodwill ruling

This being the season of goodwill to all, a court in Nakuru, Kenya, last week ordered that a goose which had been produced as exhibit be kept from the dinner table this Christmas.

Chief magistrate Wilbroda Juma spared the bird because the man charged with stealing it could still appeal his conviction.

Mr Simon Kuria Nyambura had pleaded guilty to stealing the noisy bird, which treated the court to a deafening round of squeaks in apparent gratitude.

The magistrate’s compassion, though, did not extend to Mr Nyambura who will be spending Christmas behind bars awaiting the completion of a probation report.

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