SA, Egypt lead Africa’s diabetes and obesity rates

SA, Egypt lead Africa’s diabetes and obesity rates

Obesity and diabetes are on the rise in Africa, reveals the first detailed analysis of these epidemics on the continent.

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Due to bad diets, South Africans – even those who are overweight – experience high levels of nutrient deficiencies, including those relating to vitamin A, iron and other minerals and vitamins.

The rates of both conditions are especially high in southern and northern Africa, led by South Africa and Egypt respectively.

Conducted by the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), in collaboration with Imperial College London, the research found that between 1980 and 2014 diabetes prevalence in African women increased from 4.1 percent to 8.9 percent. In men, prevalence of the disease increased from 3.1 to 8.5 percent in the same time-frame.

According to the study results, which were announced this week, this steep rise has been triggered by increasing rates of obesity across the continent.

“Our findings are based on the largest dataset ever collected describing these conditions in Africa. As the continent experiences higher burdens of obesity and diabetes, there is also a need to track performance of countries in preventing these conditions through better data,” said Dr James Bentham, from the Imperial College’s School of Public Health, in a statement.

Gender and regional differences

In men, the highest rates of diabetes and obesity were found in northern Africa, while, in women, southern Africa accounted for the highest levels.

Professor Andre Kenge, from the SAMRC, said that this “is the first detailed analysis of obesity and diabetes in Africa and shows a steady increase across the continent since 1980”.

Escalating diabetes rates in northern Africa have largely been attributed to inactive lifestyles and diet. But urbanisation and economic transitions to more affluent lifestyles, according to the study, are to blame for rising rates of both conditions in the southern part of the continent

Kenge said: “It highlights susceptibility determinants which are particular to Africans and will provide evidence that can be referenced when developing interventions in managing the dual burden of obesity and diabetes in Africa.” – Health-e News.