World Obesity Day 2021.
Report of World Obesity Day 2021 Media Conference
World Obesity Day is the day dedicated to addressing the global threat Obesity poses to our world. It is a challenge which involves everybody because it is already an epidemic of sort. As such, the United Nations through the World Health Organisation (WHO) is worried regarding how to combat the threat holistically. Therefore, the call is for “everybody to work together for happier, healthier and longer lives for everybody.”
This call by the World Health Organisation is to ensure a healthier world conducive enough for all and sundry to live in; knowing full well that we have a case on our hands. The theme of this year’s World Obesity Day is “Everybody Needs Everybody.” According to WHO, we can only realise this if we understand that: “Obesity is a disease and must be treated as one. We all have a role to play in supporting and advocating for people living with Obesity. We must recognise that every body matters if we are to build a healthier world for everybody.”
4th March is the global day set aside by the World Health Organisation for the celebration of World Obesity Day. Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) hosted a Media Conference to mark this year’s celebration of World Obesity Day on Thursday, 4th March, 2021. NHF Communications Advisor, Mr. Abiola Awe welcomed participants to the event and asked them to note that “the world is a community for all human beings. It is therefore important to be our brother’s keeper because ‘everybody needs everybody’ in the global community.”
According to him “World Obesity Day is an auspicious day for Nigerian Heart Foundation because this is the first time that NHF will be officially marking World Obesity Day with a Media Conference.” The issues surrounding obesity is worrisome “now that it affects children and youth in our country” Nigeria. World Obesity Day is billed to address these issues surrounding obesity with the celebration of World Obesity Day.
In his welcome address, the indefatigable Executive Director of NHF, Dr. Kingsley Kolapo Akinroye, on behalf of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and Executive Council (EC) of Nigerian Heart Foundation, welcomed participants to the World Obesity Day celebration in Nigeria. Obesity is one of the risk factors of Cardiovascular disease. Dr. Akinroye noted that the coronavirus pandemic has not only affected the health of Nigerians, it has equally contributed to high rate of mortality recorded globally from Covid-19.
Dr. Akinroye noted that obesity has “occupied a pivotal place as a risk factor for Non-Communicable Disease (NCDs).” Nigerian Health Foundation, in line with the World Health Organisation, Dr. Akinroye stated, feels the need to consider obesity particularly as it concerns the health of children and youth in Nigeria and around the world. “We are also aware that in the last one year, obesity has gained prominence because of our recent challenge –Covid-19.” More so, “people with obesity are more prone to either fall ill or die from Covid-19. And, this is even a big challenge to the adult population.”
He appreciated Emeritus Prof. Tola Atinmo, NHF Nutrition Committee Chairman, for championing the celebration of World Obesity Day this year 2021 by Nigerian Heart Foundation. He appreciated the foreign partners of NHF and all stakeholders in the fight against obesity all over the world.
Goodwill message was taken from Dr. Semnen Lambert Osakue, African Representative, Choices International Foundation, Amsterdam. Dr. Osakue appreciated the initiative of NHF to undertake the Media Conference on Obesity and “strongly believe that this very important subject and discussions we shall have will bring positive solutions to combating obesity in Nigeria.” According to the Global Nutrition Report 2020, “More and more countries are experiencing the double burden of malnutrition, eating nutrition transition , in lower middle income countries (such as Nigeria) where under nutrition is still a public health concern, have seen increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity”, Dr. Osakue noted.
“Studies now show that overweight and obesity is directly linked to the development of diet related Non-Communicable Diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus, Cardiovascular diseases and various types of Cancer,” she said. She stated further that “Studies have shown that NCDs account for seven (7) of the ten (10) causes of death, and approximately 74% of overall death in the world, according to WHO.” These increases the burden on our already overstretched health care system.
To address these deficiencies in our health care sector, Dr. Osakue stated “It is imperative that our food and nutrition policies, regulations, strategies be tied in with evidence based practices and monitored thoroughly to ensure healthier food environment and behaviours.” She noted that Covid-19 has awaken the world to the importance of nutrition to the body’s immunity and ability to ward off diseases. She urged NHF to “go with this momentum to bring together everybody from the Government, CSOs, NGOs, Academia and the Private Sector to work together to curb this problem.”
In his Goodwill message, Prof. Akin Osibogun, Executive Director, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Nigeria (NCD Alliance Nigeria), read by Mr. Abiola Awe; Prof. Osibogun warmly congratulated the President and the Executives of NHF on this auspicious occasion of the first World Obesity Day 2021 Media Conference organised by NHF. He said that at the NCD Alliance Nigeria “We share the opinion that there is indeed a need to urgently increase awareness about obesity and its health consequences and we thus gladly associate with the marking of the World Obesity Day as one of the strategies to increase that awareness.”
Albeit, obesity has been considered to be the problem of the western world is alarmingly now “increasingly on the rise in low income countries including Nigeria and particularly in the urban settings,” Prof. Osibogun noted. According to him, “The health consequences of obesity include Cardiovascular diseases (especially Heart and disease and Stroke), Diabetes, Musculo-Skeletal Disorder (especially Osteoarthritis) and some Cancers (including Breast, Ovarian and Prostrate).
Obesity is of great concern to NCD Alliance Nigeria and “By joining hands together, we certainly will be able to achieve much within a reasonable time. The NCD Alliance Nigeria is willing and available to work with the Nigerian Heart Foundation, government at all levels and other stakeholders to reduce the prevalence of obesity and associated diseases.” NCD Alliance Nigeria cherishes the “collaboration with the NHF and will support all efforts to control this emerging epidemic in our country,” he said.
Address on World Obesity Day 2021
Address on World Obesity Day 2021 was given by Emeritus Prof. Tola Atinmo FAS, NHF Nutrition Committee Chairman, read Dr. Kingsley K. Akinroye, Executive Director, NHF; Prof. Atinmo welcomed participants “to the Commemoration of World Obesity Day 2021.” Obesity has been a major risk factor and “since the mid-70s Obesity has gradually increased to almost five times in children and adolescents, affecting people of all ages from all social groups in both developed and developing countries.”
Due to the inadequate knowledge of the causes of Obesity, “Patients with Obesity are regularly stigmatised because many – including doctors, policymakers, and others – do not fully understand the root causes of Obesity, which are often a complex mixture of dietary, lifestyle, genetic, psychological, socio-cultural, economic and environmental factors,” stated Prof. Atinmo. He stated further that “The Nigerian Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth 2013 – 2018 (Nigerian Heart Foundation) continued to record that urban resident Nigerian Children and Youth are more overweight and obese than their rural counterpart.”
Covid-19, according to Prof. Atinmo “is a testimony that many aspects of our health are determined by socio-economic environment. Obesity is no difference.” In a bid to win the fight against Obesity, Prof. Atinmo believes that “There is a lot we can do to make a difference and this include; restricting the marketing to children of food and drinks high in fats, sugar and salt; taxing sugary drinks, and providing better access to affordable, healthy food.” He, therefore, wished that “Government, non-governmental organisations, health and education authorities and sports organisations should develop policies of building an environment that is supportive of healthy living towards reduction of Obesity.”
Obesity in Nigeria: Perspectives
Prof. Adebayo Adeyemi FAS, Director, NHF Scientific Affairs Committee “The issue of Obesity appears to be sort of turning into a pandemic –a silent pandemic; not only in Nigeria but globally,” as observed by Prof. Adeyemi. Available statistics indicates that “the rate of Obesity in Nigeria has been increasing steadily in the last 20 years,” he said. The rate at which the increase is going would affect the socio-economic life of Nigerians unless something drastic is done to combat it.
As a country, “It is imperative to put in place a roadmap to arrest this pandemic.” Basically, we need education and enlightenment for all Nigerians in the role of diet with respect to the reduction of Obesity in our country. “As the saying goes: “You are what you eat.”” There has been increase in the consumption of processed foods, sugary foods et al. The earlier speakers and Mr. Chairman have all highlighted the dangers inherent in unnecessary diets and lifestyle for Nigerians; and the need to change them.
“The practice of home-cooking is equally on a low ebb, especially among educated Nigerians, who now subsists on junk foods which are known to be major contributors to Obesity and overweight,” Prof. Adeyemi stated. He said further that “Nigeria is blessed with many rich varieties of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately production, consumption, processing and utilisation of this highly economical crops have been on the low level more recently.”
Prof. Fatai Adeniyi, Director, NHF Exercise Is Medicine Nigeria “Obesity is a very serious problem which should be tackled with all seriousness, as a matter of fact” on our hands, Prof. Adeniyi stated. World Obesity Day celebration is “specifically to increase awareness, encourage advocacy, improve policies and share experiences.” Please note, that “tackling Obesity is not an exclusive preserve of those who work in Physical Activity or Exercise. It is actually a whole lots of combination of interventions.”
“Nigerian Heart Foundation in the past has committed a lot of resources to investigating issues around Physical Activity among Children and Youth. Because, these are age groups that should be given a lot of prominence in whatever we do.” In 2013, 2016 and 2018, Nigerian Heart Foundation (NHF) “during active involvement in research” produced the “Nigerian Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth.” Incidentally, the problem of Obesity does not end with the persons within this age group as it cuts across all spectrum of life.
The whole gamut of what Exercise Is Medicine does is centred essentially on weight loss, as Obesity or overweight is practically the major risk factors for Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). One of the many ways to nip in the bud the problem of Obesity and overweight is the Exercise Is Medicine on Campus programme. This is to engage the youth population and make them to be active in their day-to-day activities in combating the problem of overweight and Obesity. Of course, children in lower schools and adults are to be equally factored into Physical Activity and Exercise.
The Message of Exercise Is Medicine Nigeria for World Obesity Day 2021 “Reaffirms that Physical Activity and Exercise play key roles in the prevention of overweight and Obesity. Reiterates that Obesity cuts across all age groups and deliberate efforts should be made by individuals, government and other agencies to curtail the disease. Declares that physician’s encouragement of persons with/or at risk of Obesity to exercise can be a powerful influence in this decision. Asserts that more than ever before, a robust collaboration among primary care physicians, physiotherapists and other exercise professionals on care of people living with Obesity is a panacea to controlling the disorder.”
Furthermore, Exercise Is Medicine Nigeria “Calls for strict implementation of existing policies and enactment of several others that are related to the prevention and control of overweight and Obesity. In the forefront will be policies to enhance commuting, built environment and active workplace.” According to the theme of World Obesity Day 2021, Exercise Is Medicine Nigeria “believes that “Everybody Needs Everybody”.”
Prof. Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, CEO, CAFSANI “Obesity and overweight represents one particular leg of the tripod where we talk of Micro-Nutrient Deficiency and Protein Energy Malnutrition. While Obesity and overweight are the third leg of the tripod.” Available statistics states that “About two-third of urban and professionals of high socio-economic status in Nigeria are either overweight or obese.” Going further, “we would agree that increasing globalisation is a strong influence that is associated with changes in our diet,” Prof. Ogunmoyela stated.
The transition from traditional diet to westernised diets “is characterised by a low consumption of fruits and diets which abound in our environment.” Unfortunately, the consumption of sugar laden beverages increased by 39% in the last decade in Nigeria. Covid-19 occasioned lockdown in the last one year thereabout has further increased our predisposition to increased overweight and Obesity. Cutting across all age groups, we were all compulsorily required to sit at home and our sedentary lifestyle increased.
The way forward is “the need of advanced awareness on improved diet patterns,” Prof. Olugbenga Ogunmoyela stated. Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative (CAFSANI) is actually committed to informing, promoting, educating and sensitising people on the need to be conscious of the dangers inherent in unhealthy eating. He believes that take-on from this Media Conference will help the consumers to make an informed choices in their diet. He called on those involved with nutrition labelling to be vocal in their advocacy so as to assist consumers in their choices.
Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria “Obesity is an emerging burden in Nigeria which is fuelling increased prevalence of metabolic and Cardiovascular diseases,” stated Prof. Afolabi. We have been very active in researches and programmes to x-ray the burden of Obesity in Nigeria. “In Nigeria, we have already recognised Obesity as a very serious problem and particularly market women as well as adolescents have been recognised as the most at risk people,” as observed by Prof. Afolabi.
“A study carried out in 2014 recognised Obesity as an emerging problem in many developing economies of Africa, identified that overweight was increasing in 27 countries of Africa,” he stated. The pattern of prevalence differs across countries. However, in sub-Saharan Africa, Obesity is less prevalent in rural areas compared to in urban areas. It is observed that urban market women spend an average of almost 12 hours on sedentary activities, in the studies carried out as far back as 2003, 2004, by K.K. et al, Afolabi et al. “And, an average of 58% of market women were found to be overweight,” he stated further.
It was found out, also, that Obesity among adolescent is also an emerging problem. Mustapha and Sanusi, 2017 and, Okagbo et al, 2016, Akinola 2016; among others “all reported high level of Obesity among adolescents in both urban and rural areas,” he said. This is an eye-opener for us to beam our searchlight on this disorder in our society. Energy intake, fatty foods, fried foods among others are the sources of overweight and Obesity. Rural-Urban disparity in the fight against Obesity must be taken into consideration in providing a lasting solution to the problem of Obesity in Nigeria. Reliance should be on all available documents which spells out the dangers of overweight and Obesity.
The way forward, most importantly, is for “the government of Nigeria to take the lead in enacting policies that will address the entire system, as well as coordination of activities along multi-sectorial divide; to ensure that healthy diets are made available for our theming population,” Prof. Afolabi suggested. Government “must also come up with regulations, as well as the political will to enforce the regulations and ensure that safe and good quality foods are made available,” Prof. Afolabi stated further.
There is need to invest in programmes that will combat overweight and Obesity and strengthen coordination mechanisms among stakeholders. He suggested that just like we have environmental sanitation day in the month, we could also have Physical Activity and Exercise day, where people can come out and exercise themselves. “There is also the need to identify champions, individuals that can muster influence who can lead the fight against overweight and Obesity,” Prof. Afolabi stated. More so, Prof. Afolabi submitted that “the Nutrition Society of Nigeria will be available to partner several agencies and organisations to ensure that we reduce the scourge of overweight and Obesity in Nigeria.”
Dr. Bisi Abiola, CEO, Indulge Health Living According to Dr. Bisi Abiola, Global Statics on Obesity indicates that: “Obesity is a major global health problem/2.8m deaths yearly from being overweight or obese/800m adults are obese/124m children/adolescents are obese/Prevalence of Obesity 5x between 1975-2016 (https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight#).”
Basically, “Obesity involves an excessive amount of body fat” in the body. Body Mass Index (BMI) provides an estimate of body fat: Overweight: BMI 21 -29; Obese: BMI 30+, Dr. Abiola noted. The following are “Obesity related diseases: Diabetes/High Blood Pressure/Heart disease and Stroke/Some Cancers/Gallbladder disease/Osteoarthritis/Breathing problems/Severe Covid-19 symptoms,” among others.
The following are the common causes of Obesity: “Unhealthy diet/Genetic/Depression/Liquid Calories/Sedentary lifestyle/Environment/Covid-19.” How to control weight gain: “Exercise regularly/Have a healthy eating plan/Hydrate with water/Avoid situations that trigger over eating/Monitor your weight/Be consistent,” Dr. Abiola suggested. More so, Dr. Abiola wish that the focus now would be on implementation rather than producing additional roadmaps, policies, reports and conducting research. She said, this has been the situation since the last 30 years.
Mrs. Edirin Metseagharun, CEO, Passion for Healthy Kids Initiative Mrs. Edirin Metseagharun noted that “Obesity has increased in children and adolescents in the last 40 years particularly among the affluent/A major contributory factor is a gradual reduction in time allocated for physical activities in schools/Many schools now use recess times for studies.” These, she says, contribute in no little way to the problem of overweight and Obesity among children and adolescents.
She, therefore, suggested the following solutions: “Encourage children to be active and eat healthy/Government to provide more facilities in schools for physical activities/Increase awareness and advocacy on Obesity prevention.”
Dr. Alkali Mohammed, President, Diabetes Association of Nigeria Dr. Alkali stated that “Most of the increase in Diabetes is directly related to increase in Obesity.” The international body is worried as to the increasing cases of Type II Diabetes occasioned by the rise in the number of persons affected by Obesity. Covid-19 has further exposed us all to the reality on ground and the Diabetes Association of Nigeria is worried should this trend continue.
The Diabetes Association of Nigeria is particularly proud to be associated with Nigerian Heart Foundation in bringing to the fore issues relating to Obesity. We would stop at nothing to ensure that Obesity is stamped out of our society. As such, the place of Physical Activities cannot be relegated to the background any longer. Children and adolescents must be put in line of understanding what is at stake wherein their health is concerned.
Participants include: Prof. Tola Atinmo FAS, NHF Nutrition Committee Chairman; Prof. Adeyemi Adebayo FAS, NHF Scientific Affairs Committee Director; Prof. Fatai Adeniyi, Director, NHF Exercise Is Medicine Nigeria; Prof. Akin Osibogun, Executive Director, Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance Nigeria (NCD Alliance Nigeria); Prof. Olugbenga Ogunmoyela, CEO, CAFSANI; Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria; Dr. Bisi Abiola, CEO, Indulge Health Living; Mrs. Edirin Metseagharun, CEO, Passion Healthy Kids Initiative; Dr. Alkali Mohammed, President, Diabetes Association of Nigeria; Mrs. Olabisi Obelawo, PLWNCDs; Michael Etuno PLWNCDs; Mr. Abiola Awe, Communications Advisor, NHF; Mr. Baba Bukari, Communications Manager, NHF; Oluyemisi Job (Mrs.), Administration, NHF; and, Dr. Kingsley K. Akinroye, Executive Director, NHF.
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