Rise in childhood obesity rates a growing concern

Rise in childhood obesity rates a growing concern
Children who have obesity have a higher risk of developing health problems than their peers who maintain a healthy weight.

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Ministry of Health has issued a warning to parents about the dangers of childhood obesity, urging them to pay attention to their children’s diets and to ensure they engage in physical activities to maintain their well-being.

Rising obesity rates among children have been linked to the consumption of high-sugar foods, fried items, and excessive fats, according to an official from the Ministry of Education.

A lack of adequate play spaces at home and school has also led to sedentary lifestyles, further contributing to weight gain among children.

Dr. Hasfah Lukwata, Assistant Commissioner for Mental Health at the Ministry of Health, highlighted that children who are obese often face feelings of insecurity and isolation, which can result in mental health issues and negatively impact their academic performance due to bullying.

Dr. Lukwata stressed the importance of parental involvement in preventing childhood obesity by carefully monitoring their children’s eating habits and promoting physical exercise.

She made these remarks during a meeting with the Nabagereka Fund, which is leading an initiative to prevent and address mental health problems.

“Obesity is so rampant of late and we see and the number of children who are obese is going up, a number of factors contribute to this, among which is stress,’’ Dr Luwata said.

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They also met Joel Mwanja, a teenager who has experienced mental health challenges due to bullying. Weighing 170kg, Mwanja faces various health problems related to his size.

Currently, his mother and volunteers are assisting him with weight loss and treatment, aiming to help him continue his education without the harassment from peers.

Oweekitiibwa Cotilda Nakate, the Minister of Education in Mengo and head of Nabagereka’s office, encouraged parents to prioritize their children’s health and committed to supporting Mwanja’s recovery from obesity.

Mwanja has gained attention on social media, with Frederick Mawanda, known as Coach Rickie, actively working to help him lose weight.

However, they have encountered numerous negative comments and insults about his size, causing significant distress for Joel and his family.

His mother has found it challenging to explain their difficulties to everyone, exacerbating their struggles.