In recent years in Zimbabwe there has been a big health problem which has previously been ignored largely because since the late 80s ,the biggest health problem has been HIV and AIDS hence the availing of resources towards fighting the endemic.
A lot of health care workers have received significant training and have a broader understanding of HIV and AIDS in fact HIV and AIDS has become an industry on its own with large amounts of funds being invested in research, drugs and many programs that are linked to it.
Having said that it is important to realize that the new lead cause of death has of late become Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) .
Non Communicable diseases are also known as Chronic diseases,these diseases are slow progressing diseases and are long duration diseases or lifetime diseases.There are four main types of NCDs which are Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and stroke.
Cancer also falls into the NCDs category as well as Chronic Respiratory Diseases such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and Asthma. Diabetes Mellitus is also an NCD.
Having brought the above to light there is need for readers to understand that one of the lead cause of Non Communicable Diseases is Obesity,which is described as a disorder involving body fat or just being overweight. Obesity is known to increase the risk of any person getting anyone or more of the known Non Communicable diseases.
Body Mass Index which is a statistics based measurement derived from the height of a person and their weight is used to determine whether one has a healthy weight or is obese.
There are two types of obesity the first one being Central Obesity which is also referred to as abdominal, visceral or apple shaped,in this type of obesity there is increased abdominal fat and people exposed to this type of obesity are at very high risk of getting diagnosed with diabetes and heart disease, this type of obesity is more common in men than it is in women.
The second type of obesity is also known as gynoid or pear-shaped obesity this one is more prevalent in women.
Obesity is caused by several factors and these factors are unique for each individual. Genes have been known to be a lead cause of obesity, they affect the amount of fats stored by one’s body,where that fat is deposited within the body as well as convention of food into energy.
Genes may also interfere with calorie burning in the body when one is exercising this has led to most obese people complaining of failing to lose significant wait despite having undergone a massive training and exercise routine.
Families in which one or both parents are obese are likely to have children who may end up obese.
The most critical area in as far as obesity is concerned is in my view Physical inactivity, what has become common is the fact that most people spend the day sitting with very little movements between the time they sit and the time they sit yet again in their cars driving home.
It is important for people who particularly work in sedentary environments such as truck drivers and most who work in offices to find time to use their bodies to burn calories through exercising.
The human body requires at least 150 minutes of exercise per week and at the same time calls for a healthy diet which has all the required components which include fruits and vegetables.
Foods and drinks high in calories must either be limited or totally avoided, a person must eat calories which he or she can use up because failure to do so means such calories will be converted to glucose and later fat in the body leading to obesity.
Some medical conditions are known to lead to obesity, Arthritis is one of the most known risk factors of obesity as it reduces the ability of a person to jog, long walks etc.
In some cases individuals with emotional distress tend to consume more food due to depression, hopelessness,anger or boredom, even more so in individuals with Bulimia which is an eating disorder.
Obesity may lead to many other problems depending with an individual which include trouble sleeping, sleep apnea (irregular breathing during sleep), dysponea (shortness of breath), varicose veins, gall stones and osteoarthritis in weight bearing joints such as the knees.
Elevated blood pressure levels may be encountered as a result of high cholesterol and triglycerides levels.
To conclude this article, what is noted as imperative is to manage body weight so that we maintain a normal Body Mass Index, as already stated normal body mass index can be achieved through healthy eating and recommended physical activities.
Below is the Body Mass Index Clasiffication:
Very Severe Underweight – <16
Severely Underweight – 16 to 17
Underweight – 17 to 18.5
Normal -18.5 to 25
Overweight – 25 to 30
Obese Class 1-30 to 35
Obese Class 2-35 to 40
Obese Class 3- >40
A 30 year old individual who is for example 1.60cm tall with a weight of 85kg will have a Body Mass Index of 33.4 that means they in Class One Obesity and their recommended weight is 60.4 kg, this means this individual will have to fight hard to lose at least 24.6 kg to be safe and healthy.
The fight against Non communicable diseases can never be whole without fighting obesity, thank you readers for your time and remember to eat healthy and routinely exercise .
*Setfree N Mafukidze is a Health Promotion Officer and a Registered General Nurse*