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RUGUNDA: Prosperity, Urbanization Increasing Obesity Risk

The Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda has said prosperity and urbanization are partly responsible for increasing obesity in the country.

Rugunda during the high-level roundtable breakfast meeting on nutrition in Kampala, attended by Ghanaian former President John Kufuor through teleconference, remarked that some diseases which were mainly prevalent in the developed nations are being registered in Uganda.

Participants at the event hosted by the Office of the Prime Minister Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition acknowledged that in urban areas, food consumption patterns are changing profoundly.

A study conducted in Southern and Eastern Africa countries including Uganda in 2009/2010 showed that Consumption of highly processed foods increases with income, particularly in urban settings.

34 percent of urban women the study says are overweight or obese compared with 20 percent of rural women caused by malnutrion. Meanwhile 16 percent of men are obese compared to 6 percent of rural men.

Also, the proportion of women who are obese in Uganda increases with wealth and education. 8 percent of women in the lowest wealth quintile are obese compared to 42 percent of women in the highest wealth quintile. 19 percent of men who have more than a secondary education and 21 percent of men who are in the highest wealth quintile are obese.

Besides obesity, malnutrition resulting from poor eating habits, has also contributed to cases like diabetes and some heart diseases.

According to Rugunda, not long ago, some of the diseases were news to East Africans.

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“When we were growing up some of the cases like obesity and others were really news to us. We have now joined the developed nations in registering and managing such cases,” said Rugunda.

Rugunda appealed for the sensitization of the population to address the problem of malnutrition caused by deficient, excess or imbalance intake of diets.

“There is a problem of inadequate knowledge. Those who need it don’t have it. Those with information on nutrition need to share it with the rest of the population to save the nation the burden of addressing malnutrition effects,” remarked Rugunda.

Other participants at the event included: Minister for General Duties, Mary Karoro Okurut; State Minister for Northern Uganda Grace Kwiyucwiny; Global Panel Director, Prof. Sandy Thomas, Global Panel Technical Adviser, Prof. Patrick Webb; Acting Head of UK’s Department for International Development, Ms. Francesca Stidston; African Union former Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture Rhoda Tusiime among others.

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