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Communities are pushing people to gain extra weight in Africa

Communities are pushing people to gain extra weight in Africa


The term overweight or obesity implies excessive fat accumulation in the body that may impair health. Evidence shows that overweight or obesity has tripled since 1970s in the world. Likewise, it is on the rapid rise in many low-middle income countries including Ethiopia. It occurs when calorie intake exceeds calories expended. The main causes of overweight or obesity are increased consumption of unhealthy diets that are high in fat, physical inactivity and sedentary behavior. The lifestyle changes in diet and physical activity are linked with environmental and societal changes.

Overweight or obesity kills more people than underweight in most countries including Africa. It is riding the silent epidemic of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs). Evidence shows that major NCDs such as diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases are highly linked to overweight or obesity.


Challenges in the community

Insufficient physical activity practice and frequent consumption of unhealthy diet are common in many African countries including Ethiopia. This is as a result of poor physical literacy and eating behavior. Majority of people believe that gaining weight is just a sign of the comforts of life and give congrats to that person. On the other hand, they asked for what reason a person loses weight and encourage gaining weight. Majority of peoples do not awake for getting overweight or obese have serious health problems. Instead, they are encouraging peoples to get overweight or obese.

In some regions of the country, some males want overweight or obese women for marriage. Also, husbands are encouraging their wife to get overweight or obese. As a result, the number of overweight or obese women is also increasing from time to time. Unlike, there are many peoples who discourage their wife for overweight or obesity in the country. On the other hand, families are pushing their child to eat an unhealthy diet and provide screen-based games. This will encourage children to be inactive and get overweight or obesity. Evidence indicated that getting overweight or obese in childhood will put them at a higher chance of being overweight or obese, premature death from NCDs and disabilities in adult age.

Majority of low-middle income countries are facing the double burden of diseases. Peoples in these countries have a problem of overweight or obesity. At the same time, undernutrition is also a problem in these countries. Overweight or obesity is more common in urban than rural. Majority of peoples are exposed to high fat, sugar, salt, and energy dense foods consumption. Dietary pattern in conjunctions with physical inactivity and sedentary behavior increases overweight or obesity. When communities are pushing peoples to gain extra weight will exaggerate the burden of NCDs in Africa.

Possible solutions

In order to reverse the current situations, the following solutions should be considered as early as possible. First, we need to understand that overweight or obesity can be prevented, and then the rapid rise of NCDs can be halted. No actions can be effective without community support and involvement. Thus, raising the knowledge, attitude and practice of community towards overweight or obesity is important in order to tackle the NCDs hazards. Turning people towards healthy diets and physical activity practice can lower these burdens. Individuals and the food industry should take accountability to reverse the current issues in Africa. Finally, implementing WHO Global Action Plan on Physical Activity 2018-2030 will facilitate best investments to lower overweight or obesity with other WHO NCDs best buys.



All peoples should understand the clear effect of overweight or obese on their health. Overweight or obesity can be prevented. Engaging in physical activity, reducing sitting time and discourage overweight or obesity is crucial in order to block the rapid rise of NCDs. All peoples should take accountability to support each other in this area.


Important links

Obesity and overweight


About author


Chalchisa Abdeta is certified with different global level trainings on physical activity to tackle non-communicable diseases (NCDs). He obtained Master of Public Health from Haramaya University on July 2016 and Bachelor of Science degree in Physiotherapy from University of Gondar on July 2009. He has practiced for 8 years as physiotherapist in both public and private hospitals in the eastern Ethiopia. Currently, he is working volunteer as country contact for Ethiopia at the Global Observatory for Physical Activity and Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance since 2016. Besides, he is working with Engage Africa Foundation as blogger and policy researcher. He found online network of physical activity advocate (Ethiopian Physical Activity Network) that aimed to increase awareness of physical activity in Ethiopia and beyond. He is passionate physical activity advocate on social media since 2015. You can follow him on Twitter @caaliphysio or @EthioPAnetwork



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