Tanzania: Overweight, Obesity Haunt Many Tanzanians

CASES of overweight and obesity are on the rise, with 10 per cent of Tanzanians at high risk. Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children Dr Faustine Ndugulile told the National Assembly here yesterday that many people in the country were struggling with obesity and overweight.

He was responding to a question from Special Seats Member of Parliament (MP) Zainab Mwamwindi (CCM), who charged that malnutrition was a serious problem haunting many children in the country.

The MP wanted the government to support nutrition committees from the grassroots level, arguing that many Tanzanians were eating excessively without considering the quality of food.

"We noted that problem, and that's why we launched a national strategy on nutrition under the coordination of the Prime Minister's Office to reduce malnutrition and stunted growth," said the deputy minister.

He added that plans were afoot to employ at least two health officials at community level who will be providing education on nutrition.

The deputy minister said the government was fully committed to implement the objectives of the global health council as well as other resolutions to reduce malnutrition at regional and global levels.

At national level, he said the government was reviewing the 2007 national health policy, which, among other things, seeks to improve nutrition services.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk.

A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), that is, the person's weight in kilogrammes divided by the square of his or her height in metres.

A person with BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.

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