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ACTION plan for obesity

- Kemantha Govender

The new African Centre for Obesity Prevention will provide a repository of the most effective obesity prevention policies and programmes available in Africa.

Obesity prevention should be made a national priority. This is according to Dr Moji Musa of the Wits Developmental Pathways for Health Research Unit at the media launch of the African Centre for Obesity Prevention (ACTION) on 17 November 2015.

“With South African children consuming 75g of sugar per day, three times the daily recommendation by the American Heart Association, there is a need to focus on restricting excessive sugar consumption,” said Musa.

ACTION will work with institutions, such as the Global Obesity Prevention Centre at Johns Hopkins University in the US, to form a collaborative network of experts, stakeholders and projects that will support programs at a cross-continental level. ACTION will participate in strengthening country resources through information, research and training, in support of national health development.

Professor Shane Norris, head of DPHRU, said ACTION will also summarise and disseminate African data and trends on obesity to the public, government and media.

“ACTION will also provide a repository of the most effective obesity prevention policies and programmes available in Africa in order to encourage lifestyle changes to prevent and manage obesity,” he said.

The Centre will provide credible and evidence-based information on the causes of obesity and associated non-communicable diseases (NCDs), as well as fact sheets on how to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour, and make healthy nutritional choices.

“One of the things that we are advocating is that South Africans, who lead sedentary lifestyles, start to introduce at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise into their daily routines,” said Norris.

It is especially important to focus children for optimal prevention and research into interventions such as healthy eating and exercising will be taken into account.

Norris believes that media can act as change agents to ensure that obesity in South Africa is prevented.

“Information dissemination and engagement with the media and public is our first plan of action,” he said.

The Centre will also support new local and international studies in the field of obesity prevention in African populations and provide intellectual expertise for national surveillance studies and obesity targeted interventions across Africa.

About ACTION

ACTION will work with institutions, such as the Global Obesity Prevention Centre at Johns Hopkins, US, to form a collaborative network of experts, stakeholders and projects that will support programs at a cross-continental level. ACTION will participate in strengthening country resources through information, research and training, in support of national health development.

ACTION will work to realise the following objectives:

  • To summarise and disseminate African data and trends on obesity to the public, government and media;
  • To provide a repository of the most effective obesity prevention policies and programmes available in Africa in order to encourage lifestyle change to prevent and manage obesity;
  • To provide a credible and evidence-based source of information on the causes of obesity and associated non communicable diseases, as well as fact sheets on how to increase physical activity, decrease sedentary behaviour, and make healthy nutritional choices;
  • To support new local and international studies in the field of obesity prevention in African populations; and
  • To provide intellectual expertise for national surveillance studies and obesity targeted interventions across Africa.
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