Uganda: Desist From Bad Eating Habits, Warns Museveni

Kampala — President Museveni has warned Ugandans to desist from bad eating habits that escalate cases of non-communicable diseases. He also urged them to engage in more exercise for healthy living.

Mr Museveni made the call yesterday during the National Physical Activity Day at Kololo Independence Grounds. The physical activity day, which was launched last year, aims at encouraging Ugandans to do exercises in order to prevent lifestyle diseases.

"It is clear that fatness is abnormal; you are not supposed to be fat... . There are diseases, which are not due to infection; they come because you have abused your body. So the doctors are now saying 40 per cent of the people who are dying should not have died because they were not affected with any disease," he said.

The President said both public and private entities must take keen interest in healthy living by exercising regularly and eating the right foods.

He also took a swipe at the doctors, whom he said do not know how to deliver their message to the population. He challenged them to explain scientific and medical issues in simple language for ordinary people to understand.

Appeal to doctors

"I think our doctors need capacity building in teaching. Do not simply state the end result... , the one of cancer you talked about bad fats, what are these bad fats, how are they burnt? You need to do the science a bit and not simply state the end result but you also show the why," he said.

According to the Ministry of Health, 500,000 people (2.7 per cent of males and 3 per cent of females) in Uganda have diabetes. Each year, 170,000 people annually die of asthma and another 200,000 people die of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. A total of 350 of every 100,000 people have cancer translating into 8,000 cases of cancer every year. Overweight cases in Uganda stand at 18.6 per cent and obesity at 3.9 per cent.

Dr Ruth Jane Aceng, the minister of Health, urged Ugandans to embrace the physical activity days to prevent such non-communicable diseases.

"We pray that this initiative will go a long way in reducing the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country," she said.

Dr Yonas Tegegn, the World Health Organisation country representative, said non-communicable diseases are proving to be more dangerous than communicable ones.

"The best way is to prevent them and to prevent them, we have to change the way we live. We have to stop taking tobacco, be moderate with alcohol and possibly decrease our consumption in high sugar food. Physical exercise will not only prevent these diseases but also make us a productive population," he added.

Dr Tegegn said towns and cities must be better planned with walkways for people to exercise.

Dr William Lumu, the president of the diabetes association in Uganda, said poor feeding habits and lack of exercise are the main causes of diabetes.

"For the people who are at risk of getting diabetes, studies have shown that if you exercise, you reduce the risk of diabetes by 58 per cent. Please exercise; don't smoke; don't take alcohol. Eat a lot of vegetables and you will be on the right side and live longer," Dr Lumu said.

Dr John Omagino, the executive director of the Uganda Heart Institute, said big bellied people who cannot see their feet are abnormal and need to exercise regularly.

"One of every four Ugandans is overweight and is already with the evidence of disease. That magnitude is bigger than even HIV. A quarter of our adult population is already at risk. That is why we must try physical exercise. It prevents 85 per cent of cardiovascular disease," he said.

He asked government not to register schools that do not have playgrounds for children to exercise.

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