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Nestle Nutr Workshop Ser Pediatr Program. 2009;63:33-41; discussion 41-6, 259-68. doi: 10.1159/000209971.

Regional case studies--Africa.

Author information

1
MRC International Nutrition Group, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Abstract

Africa is the final continent to be affected by the nutrition transition and, as elsewhere, is characterized by the paradoxical coexistence of malnutrition and obesity. Several features of the obesity epidemic in Africa mirror those in other emerging nations: it penetrates the richer nations and urban areas first with a strong urban- rural gradient; initially it affects the wealthy, but later there is a demographic switch as obesity becomes a condition more associated with poverty, and it shares many of the same drivers related to the increasing affordability of highly refined oils and carbohydrates, and a move away from subsistence farm work and towards sedentary lifestyles. Africa also has some characteristics of the obesity epidemic that stand out from other regions such as: (1) excepting some areas of the Pacific, Africa is probably the only region in which obesity (especially among women) is viewed culturally as a positive and desirable trait, leading to major gender differences in obesity rates in many countries; (2) most of Africa has very low rates of obesity in children, and to date African obesity is mostly an adult syndrome; (3) Africans seem genetically prone to higher rates of diabetes and hypertension in association with obesity than Caucasians, but seem to be relatively protected from dislipidemias; (4) the case-specific deaths and disabilities from diabetes and hypertension in Africa are very high due to the paucity of health services and the strain that the 'double burden' of disease places on health systems.

PMID:
19346766
DOI:
10.1159/000209971
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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