The Malnutrition Paradox: Obesity on the Rise in Hunger-Stricken Nations

Obesity Scale Measuring Tape

In African countries such as Zimbabwe, being overweight is seen as a mark of prosperity, but the rise in obesity presents a concerning health paradox. A study by researchers on adolescents in Harare revealed that 15.8% were obese or overweight, with higher prevalence among girls. There’s also a notable lack of obesity awareness, influenced by the lack of formal education in households and poor eating habits. The researchers stress the importance of comprehensive education interventions addressing this issue.

Researching the frequency of obesity and the factors linked to a lack of awareness about it.

In certain African nations, where hunger and undernourishment have historically been challenges, carrying extra weight is often seen as an indicator of good health and wealth. However, in most of these countries, a malnutrition paradox is evident. Obesity, a chronic disease that affects millions of people worldwide, is increasing at an alarming rate in countries like Zimbabwe, where the consumption of processed, energy-dense foods associated with Western lifestyles, has been adopted.

Insights into Obesity in Zimbabwean Adolescents

An insightful study led by graduate student Ashleigh Pencil, from the Graduate School of Human Life Science at Osaka City University, and Dr. Naomi Hayami, from the Graduate School of Human Life and Ecology at Osaka Metropolitan University, shed light on the prevalence of obesity and the factors associated with low obesity awareness among 423 school-going adolescents aged 14 to 19 years, in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe.

School Going Adolescents Who Participated in the Survey Zimbabwe

School-going adolescents who participated in the survey. Credit: Naomi Hayami, Osaka Metropolitan University

Results showed that 15.8% of the participants were obese or overweight, and the proportion was particularly high among girls. Similarly, low obesity awareness was observed in 27.1% of the adolescents with a higher proportion among girls. The study also found that a lack of formal education among household heads and adolescents’ poor eating habits are two significant factors associated with low obesity awareness among adolescents.

“The findings highlight the need to close the gap in obesity awareness among adolescents in Zimbabwe,” said Ms. Ashleigh Pencil. “We hope to develop obesity prevention and nutrition education intervention programs that engage the household heads and children to educate them about diet-related diseases.”

Reference: “Prevalence of Obesity and the Factors Associated with Low Obesity Awareness among Urban Adolescents in Harare, Zimbabwe” by Ashleigh Pencil, Tonderayi M. Matsungo, Nobuko Hongu and Naomi Hayami, 13 May 2023, Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu15102302

1 Comment on "The Malnutrition Paradox: Obesity on the Rise in Hunger-Stricken Nations"

  1. stephen schaffer | October 11, 2023 at 9:42 am | Reply

    America’s response to the obesity problem is, of course, drugs (with a nod to big pharma.)
    More dietary awareness needed in Zimbabwe but here in the USA we require $1400 a month drugs – forever to help our fat pigs.
    God forbid we should eat less and walk more.

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