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Tackling obesity among children, adolescents in Nigeria

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze, Abuja
04 November 2021   |   3:01 am
Worried by the increasing rate of childhood and adolescent obesity in the country, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Environment for Health Development Initiatives

Obesity.<br />PHOTO :Huffington Post

Worried by the increasing rate of childhood and adolescent obesity in the country, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Environment for Health Development Initiatives (EHDI) has called for multi-sectoral action to tackle the problem.

Speaking at the Childhood and Adolescent Obesity Prevention Programme for select schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of EHDI, Dr. Nnenna Ezeigwe, lamented that the prevalence of childhood obesity is on the increase globally including in Nigeria, stressing that in 2015, the prevalence was 1. 6 percent and rose to two percent in 2018.

The programme was organised by EHDI in collaboration with Benavola Apartments and Suites.

Ezeigwe observed that globally about 2. 6 million people die of obesity every year, adding that obese people are at very high risk of having cardiovascular diseases and other non-communicable diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension and chronic respiratory diseases.

According to her, non-communicable diseases are the leading cause of death in the world and about 29 percent of deaths in Nigeria are due to such diseases.

She said, “This needs to be tackled from the root. It is preventable because the cause has to do with calorie intake and If the caloric intake is more than what you expend in terms of activities the excess calories will be stored as fat in your body and that is what you call obesity. If you are able to control what you eat, stop high caloric foods like sugar, carbohydrates, processed foods, fast food, reduce fat and increase intake of fruits and vegetables because they have a lot of roughages. To burn down excess calories increase your activities and as a matter of fact, there has to be a balance between intake and expenditure.”

Ezeigwe explained that the programme is doing health talk on obesity to enable students to know all they need to know about obesity, the causes, consequences and prevention and also checking the Body Mass Index (BMI) to determine who is obese and recommend solutions.

Ezeigwe advised parents to be careful with the kind of snack they give their children, noting that part of the strategies to tackle obesity in some countries is to prohibit certain snacks on schools premises.

She stated that the organisation is working together with the government to ensure that the right policies are put in place adding that tackling a problem like obesity requires a multi-sectoral action.

Also speaking the Vice Principal of the school, Mrs. Mojisola Victor who commended the programme noted that for any child to excel academically, that child must be very healthy,

She said, “Obesity is a very bad ailment that brings other diseases and childhood obesity has been on the increase in recent times because of the kind of junk food the children eat. If the children have the right information, they will know what to avoid.”