Watch out on junk food, Kenyans told

September 26, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26- The government needs to urgently start regulating the marketing of foods and drinks to children, the Kenya Cardiac Society has suggested.

This is one of the recommendations by the organisation that can go a long way in encouraging Kenyans to adopt healthy lifestyles and thus control the spread of heart and cardiovascular ailments.

“There are some barriers to change and these barriers require policy change and implementation like positioning of kiosks and other food outlets in the vicinity of school which encourage intake salt, fat and sugar,” Chairman Professor Gerald Yonga said.

The enforcement of laws such as the Tobacco Control Act which bans all promotional adverts on smoking and smoking in public places as well as the sale of cigarettes in sticks should also be enhanced, he added.

“We know that there are still kiosks out there that are selling single sticks of cigarettes which encourage children to smoke and we also know that there are people who are selling alcohol to underage children,” Prof Yonga said.

The increase of heart ailments, cancers, diabetes has reached alarming levels and needs to be urgently addressed. This was the message to the public as the country marked the World Heart Day.

According to the World Health Organization heart diseases and stroke, cancers, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases are more prevalent in developing countries than in the richer countries.

Although Kenya lacks comprehensive statistics on heart diseases, data collected from hospitals across the country show that 25 percent of all admissions are due to heart diseases while 20 percent of the population have had hyper tension and another four percent are living with diabetes.

This grave situation is further compounded by the fact that more young people are smoking while 20 percent of Kenyans are obese with two percent of them being children.

“These trends are very dangerous for non-communicable diseases. We know cancers are on the increase with breast cancer being the highest followed by cervical and prostate cancer,” he said.

While pointing out that these problems were being brought about by lifestyle changes, Prof Yonga urged Kenyans to change their dietary habits and take up exercises so as to prevent such cases and the premature deaths that are as a result of the heart related diseases.

The Society, he said would continue to advocate for the implementation of measures that can aid people in adopting healthier lifestyles.

Speaking after the flagging-off of a walk to mark World Heart Day, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Development Dr James Nyikal said there’s a need to sensitise the public to take responsibility of their health.

This was particularly imperative because Kenya like most Sub Saharan Africa countries is now grappling with how to deal with the non communicable diseases and yet it has not managed to contain the communicable ones.

“We are suffering from what has been referred to as the worst of the two worlds; non-communicable diseases are assuming significant burden and living side by side with the yet to be controlled communicable diseases,” Dr Nyikal regretted.


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