My Countrymen And Women, We Are Fat!
In April, we spoke to Gladys Mugambi of the Kenya National Food Fortification Alliance and the deputy head Division of Nutrition about the health and nutrition needs of our children. She went as far as speaking about nutrition concerns for young adults, both male and female. You see, we urbanites have malnutrition. My fellow countrymen and women, we have a problem – we are fat! Malnutrition is something we always attributed to 'poor' people without enough to eat. Sadly those of us with means now suffer from malnutrition because we are making poor food choices. We are fat, out of shape and unless we get serious, we will die.
Let’s go back to February 2012 – yes, this year. Our news desk ran a story about the latest obesity figures in Kenya. The one paragraph story said, “Almost half the women in Nairobi are obese. Statistics from the public health ministry show that 44 per cent of Nairobi women and 22 per cent of school children have the problem. Terry Wefwafwa, head of nutrition at the ministry of health, blames the rise in obesity cases on unhealthy diets and sedentary lifestyles.”
The instant reaction from all of us at Radio Africa was “it’s time for Sexyback2”. However as we thought through the idea and mulled over the issue, we realised we couldn’t possibly embark on a campaign about the aesthetics of weightloss, nice as that may be. In fact we noted that in spite of the amazing success of our 2007 campaign dubbed 'Bringing Sexy Back', we would be doing a grave disservice to ourselves and the public if we didn’t think through the matter and address the real life and death issues behind obesity. As such our campaign is now dubbed 'Bringing Healthy Back'.
But why the concern about health and why are we at Radio Africa making it a national campaign? Let me borrow from an e-mail AAR’s Jagi Gakunju sent me in April: The “implosion” of NCDs (non-communicable diseases) is the next challenge in healthcare. We are already seeing it in AAR. The main culprit is changed lifestyle, where we have equated eating junk with being sophisticated.
On the e-mail from Jagi was a comment from Kepha Nyanumba, a nutrionistist at AAR. He says “breakfast has many beneficial effects, including giving us energy to face the day and lowering the risk for cancer. It increases metabolism enabling us to burn more calories even when you are at rest.” Kepha was hoping to find a way to challenge AAR members and staff to have breakfast – not rubbish breakfast – but a real and nutritious breakfast.
Nyanumba, if you are reading this in shock, please smile. Your prayer has been more than answered. Radio Africa will be telling everyone, not just your members, about the importance of breakfast and leading a healthy lifestyle. We are Bringing Healthy Back.
What do cancer and skipping breakfast have in common you may wonder?
Skipping breakfast has been linked to being overweight and undernourished.
Even of more concern is the strong association between cancer and being overweight: One out of every three cancers is linked to excess body weight, poor nutrition and physical inactivity.
Eating breakfast promotes lower body weight, better nutrition and provides more consistent energy to encourage an active lifestyle. That’s why breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Here are some other breakfast facts to chew on:
Those who consume breakfast daily have consistently higher intakes of the most important nutrients, vitamins and minerals we all need. Many of these nutrients play a direct or indirect role in cancer prevention. Breakfast eaters tend to get more fibre, which lessens their risk for colon cancer. Research shows children who eat breakfast perform better in school, have better behavior and are more alert. Adults who eat breakfast feel better emotionally and physically.
This isn’t a call to go out and buy every fatty and sugary product on the shelves that we urbanites have come to associate with breakfast – no! This is about going back to doing breakfast the way our grandmothers did and the way our mothers did. The real way, the proper way, the nutritious way.
Whole grains, fat-free and low-fat milk and milk products, fruits, and vegetables – that’s what we’re talking about. Imagine how thrilled we are that the Kenya Dairy Processors Association has just launched it’s generic milk campaign Stay Young Do Milk. At Radio Africa, we’re not just Bringing Healthy Back, we insist that you do milk.
However, because the message must be told over and over again, we need as many voices on-board. We are on a mission to save a nation – women, children and men. If your passion is health and nutrition; if you have always wanted to say something about our food choices and our outrageous sedentary lifestyles and have never had the platform; if you worry about the health and nutrition of urban women, children and men who have bought into the misconception that sophistication equals junk: then Bringing Healthy Back needs you. Drop me a line: caroline@Kissfm.co.ke.
Radio Africa needs you on board, because the future of this nation – a nation that is slowly dying, one mouthful of junk at a time – needs you.
We are Bringing Healthy Back. Join us.