By David Njagi
Laziness is a leading cause of lifestyle diseases in Africa, a new report by the World Health Organization (WHO) has established.
The report on the status of major health risk factors for noncommunicable diseases says women are more likely to catch a lifestyle disease due to poor physical activity.
The main Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) listed by WHO include heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive lung disease.
These are likely to surpass sickness and death from infectious diseases by 2030, the report says.
WHO regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, links the rising cases of NCDs in Africa to diversion of resources to serve emergencies such as Zika and Ebola.
“Amidst these emergencies we cannot lose sight of the enormous health dangers posed by NCDs since many of these can be prevented through changes in behavior and lifestyle,’’ says Dr. Moeti.
The report also lists tobacco use, alcoholism, failure to consume five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, as other causes of NCDs.
While this is the case, at least one in three adults in Africa suffers from hypertension or high blood pressure.
“High blood pressure can damage the heart leading to heart attacks, congestive heart failure, and fatty build up in the arteries, causing them to harden,” says Dr. Abdikamal Alisalad, acting irector of WHO’s NCD cluster. “It can also contribute to stroke, kidney damage and vision loss.”
But it can be successfully treated through lifestyle changes and medication, said Dr. Alisalad.
For instance, WHO recommends adults to engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate, or one hour of vigorous physical activity every week.
Moderate physical activities include brisk walking, doing household chores, and dancing, while running, carrying heavy loads, swimming, and cycling qualify as vigorous physical activities.