UNICEF REPORT

Food, drink should carry sugar content warning

In Summary

•  Many Kenyans suffer from hunger yet 10 percent of the population is now obese.

• The cause is a sedentary lifestyle combined with a diet high in sugar and fat.

"Having just one sugary drink a day lowers the chance of successful IVF by 12 per cent, the research adds." /FILE
"Having just one sugary drink a day lowers the chance of successful IVF by 12 per cent, the research adds." /FILE

A new UN report says that more than 500 million children suffer from malnutrition or 'hidden hunger' but at the same time childhood obesity is increasing all over the world, including in Africa (see P11).

Kenya is not immune to this contradiction. While stunting and hidden hunger remain common, nearly 10 percent of the population is classified as obese, double what it was in 1990.

Part of the problem is a sedentary lifestyle with parents working in offices and children watching TV or using the internet rather than playing outside.

Yet the main cause may be our changing diets. The middle class now eat too much fried food and sugar, especially in sodas. Processed foods bought in supermarkets also contain high levels of salt and sugar.

Overweight people are more likely to suffer from diabetes and hypertension.

The Unicef report wants packaging on foodstuffs and beverages to inform consumers exactly what they are eating and drinking. If they are about to consume too much sugar, they should be warned in advance. 

The government should support this initiative and legislate for prominent content labels and advice to appear on packaged foods and drinks. These could depict obese people.

Quote of the day: "Preventing the conflicts of tomorrow means changing the mind-set of youth today."

Graça Machel
The Mozambican politician was born on October 23, 1945