Malnutrition and Obesity in Uganda
Ugandan scientists strongly recommend paying much more attention to the problem of malnutrition in country-specific research (1). Currently, over 95% of Uganda’s research capacity is focused on describing the consequences of a lack of calories, particularly wasting and stunting due to malnutrition. Even though the National Ugandan Nutrition Report has pointed out the increasing prevalence of pathological obesity in adults in the country and some studies have shown that the number of overweight Ugandans exceeds the number of undernourished by three times or more regionally, malnutrition as a result of a one-sided, micronutrient-poor but calorie-rich diet is still an unknown phenomenon. One reason for this is the insufficient understanding of a high quality nutrition. For example, carbohydrate-rich meals such as “Posho”, a staple of starchy flours such a corn flour or cassava flour, if possible served with meat, are culturally associated with a higher status than beans, sprouts, or other vegetables.
Uganda, the scientists say, cannot afford to ignore the problem of the double burden of malnutrition (meaning overweight and underweight occur simultaneously within a population ) as consequences of nutritional deficiencies. They propose to use the established structures for HIV prevention in the future also for malnutrition management. Likewise, a comprehensive coverage of the number of morbidly obese Ugandan children could be a starting point to promote this in specific school programs for a healthy diet.
(1) C. Ngaruiya et al. Obesity as a form of malnutrition: over-nutrition on the Uganda “malnutrition” agenda. Pan Afr Med J. 2017 Sep 20;28:49. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2017.28.49.11176. eCollection 2017, available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5697987/ in relation to
(2) LM Jaacks et al. Programming maternal and child overweight and obesity in the context of undernutrition: current evidence and key considerations for low- and middle-income countries. Public Health Nutr. 2017 May;20(7):1286-1296. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016003323. Epub 2017 Jan 9., available at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28065195