Thursday, May 19, 2022

Obesity: a trend that knows no boundaries

Faced with the growing number of obesity victims across the country, the Ministry of Health is pulling all the stops to avoid the persistent physical body disorder, commonly diagnosed amongst the children.

Symptoms of obesity include, amongst others, excess weight, extraordinary height disproportionate to age amongst children, although the syndrome knows no boundary.

Like children, adults too could even acquire the condition due to unregulated dietary plans and unhealthy eating habits.

“Child growth monitoring is conducted in all our facilities on a monthly basis. The weight, height and age of children are assessed and appropriate action taken,” revealed John Seakgosing, the Minister of Health, saying the health workers routinely provide dietary advice to the obese, including children and adolescents.

Besides assisting them with individualized dietary plans and promoting healthy eating habits, such as consumption of more fruits and vegetables, Seakgosing said health workers maintain a healthy weight and encourage physical exercises.

“To reduce childhood obesity, optimal infant and young child feeding practices are promoted,” Seakgosing said, adding that “use of locally available foods and consumption of fruits and vegetables is encouraged”.

While optimal breast feeding and complimentary feeding practices for HIV negative mothers are also promoted for the children under the age of 2 years, evidence shows that breastfed children are less likely to develop overweight, obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart diseases and certain cancers.

“My ministry is developing a Nutrition Strategy for 2012-2016 to address malnutrition among children, including being overweight, obesity as well as reducing the prevalence of stunting among children,” Seakgosing stated, saying stunted children are more likely to gain weight later in life hence become prone to non-communicable diseases.

“This Strategy will also focus on improving maternal nutrition as it can also contribute to childhood obesity,” he said. “We are in the process of implementing the 2011 National Health Policy, which details the role of healthy foods and physical activities. This will also go a long way in reducing obesity in the general population, including amongst children.”

Worried about the growing trend WHO presented recently, Gaborone West North MP, Robert Masitara, posed the question in parliament.

Not only is obesity afflicting his constituency amongst the school going children, the legislator is confronted with the same problem across the country as he travels about.

Besides the promotion of healthy eating amongst children, Masitara is of the view cycling could be introduced at schools.

He has even posed this in parliament only to hear: “For cycling to be a success there should be funding for procurement of bicycles and there be enough pupils who have shown interest in the activity.”

“I wanted to hear from the leadership …to see how as MPs we could assist,” Masitara said in an interview.

To show love to their kids, parents usually pamper children with foods laced with sweet stuff, including chocolates, which doctors say contribute to obesity.


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