Pablo – When Obesity Invades the City

I was strolling with a friend along the city streets of Kampala when we met a chubby girl walking hand in hand with her mother.

I whispered to him that the girl was too obese. He sheepishly reached out to the girl and said, “Hello Obese.” The angry mum aimed a kick at him that hardly left the ground because she equally had excessive fat. She compensated her incapability to strike back by unleashing serious verbal artillery that would make a pious priest collapse in shock. My friend didn’t realise that people take the state of being grossly fat too personally.

I don’t blame him to some extent, because he comes from an extremely rural background where they hardly see such overweight children. The food children eat in the rural setting won’t allow them generate such weight. Eighty per cent of the food they eat is fat-free. They eat things like guavas, cassava, tomatoes, sugarcane, potatoes, fresh beans, etc. Most of the time, if not all the time, they don’t fry their foods.

Children in the urban areas are subjected to fast foods that are made out of excessive fats and oils. A kid will have milk, sausages, eggs and cheese for breakfast. They then unload yoghurt, chaps and eggroll on them for tea break and then head to KFC for chicken, fries and soda. Their appetites are out of this world. They eat like they have been hired to do so.

You meet this kid in two weeks’ time and the weight they have amassed is beyond human understanding. You may think they are mobile supermarkets. Obesity can be hereditary, but proper dieting and medicines can control it. Children need to be monitored. This business of the fridge being stocked at all times because the child has to eat at will is hazardous practice. Kids in the rural setting know that they eat porridge in the morning and the next meal is past midday and later at night, if available.

Obese children need to exercise. They spend most of the time confined in those high-rise walls watching movies that generate appetite. The only thing closest to exercising is playing video games. Kids need to run around the neighbourhood, play football, play hide and seek and other games. Snakes and ladders won’t help much.

I once asked a parent why she wasn’t allowing her daughter to play with other children and she said she didn’t want her daughter’s dress getting dirty.

“I bought it in Canada and I can’t afford putting such an expensive item to waste,” she bragged. You could tell that the daughter was itching to play with her friends but the piercing look from her mum was enough to make her stay put. I don’t think the girl liked the dress.

Obesity is causing many life-threatening diseases among the overweight people around the globe. We need to take this seriously, lest minors start suffering diseases for the elderly, such as diabetes and hypertension, because we didn’t help. This business of consoling them and telling them that they will look smaller if they hang out with friends who are fatter won’t help cut their weight.

Source : The Observer

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