Nearly one-third of adults in Botswana obese – study

Timebomb; Obesity is an emerging health crisis in Botswana
Timebomb; Obesity is an emerging health crisis in Botswana

Nearly a third of Botswana’s adult population is obese, while the prevalence of diabetes doubled between 2010 and 2011, pointing to an emerging health crisis in the country, experts have said.

In an interview during World Consumer Day last week, local dietician, Boingotlo Gaseitsiwe said the Botswana Family Health Study had shown that at least 29 percent of adults can be classified as obese, while 6.7 percent of children under the age of five are also overweight.

The study also found that about 27 percent of Botswana’s private school-going students are obese, while the figure is at 11.9 percent for the public school-going learners.

Other startling figures from the study are that the prevalence of diabetes within the population rose from 4.1 percent in 2010 to 8.2 percent in 2011.  Obesity is one of the key drivers of diabetes when it occurs after birth.

“Unhealthy diets are linked with four of the 10 biggest causes of death,” she said.

“The study also indicates that about 33.1 percent of Batswana have hypertension and together with diabetes, these two are the most dangerous diseases because one can have the disease for years without realising it.”

Botswana Consumer Centre for Advocacy Research and Orientation (BCCARO) chairperson, Selinah Peter said the organisation is active in sensitising the public about the dangers of not eating healthily.

She said it has been noted that some Batswana associate unhealthy eating with the appearance of ‘lavish lifestyles’ while those who eat healthier indigenous food are regarded as poor.

“I’m urging the public to refrain from that,” she said at the event.

“This is why we have invited dieticians here to shed light about healthy living.”

Peter said many children under the age of five are obese and more educational campaigns are required to help mothers understand the importance of breastfeeding. “Most children who are feeding on formula milk usually drink the formula fat, which increases the risk of them becoming fatter as they grow,” she said.            

Peter said BCCARO will hold workshops around the country to encourage Batswana to eat healthy. Since its inception in 1999, BCCARO has formed 22 consumer groups strategically placed around the country to address the needs of consumers and educate them about their rights.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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