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Obesity rising faster in rural areas globally



Obesity worldwide is increasing more quickly in rural areas than in cities, a study reported Wednesday, challenging a long-held assumption that the global epidemic of excess weight is mainly an urban problem.

Data covering 200 countries and territories compiled by more than 1,000 researchers showed an average gain of roughly five to six kilos per woman and man living in the countryside from 1985 to 2017.

City-dwelling women and men, however, put on 38 and 24 percent less, respectively, than their rural counterparts over the same period, according to the findings, published in Nature.

“The results of this massive global study overturn commonly held perceptions that more people living in cities is the main cause of the global rise in obesity,” said senior author Majid Ezzati, a professor at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health.

“This means that we need to rethink how we tackle this global health problem.”

The main exception to the trend was sub-Saharan Africa, where women gained weight more rapidly in cities.

Obesity has emerged as a global health epidemic, driving rising rates of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and a host of cancers.

The annual cost of treating related health impacts could top a trillion dollars by 2025, the World Obesity Federation estimated in 2017.

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To date, most national and international policies to curb excess body weight have focused on cities, including public messaging, the redesign of urban spaces to encourage walking, and subsidised sports facilities.

To factor health status into the comparison across nations, the researchers used a standard measure known as the “body-mass index”, or BMI, based on height and weight.

A person with a BMI of 25 or more is considered overweight, while 30 or higher is obese. A healthy BMI ranges from 18.5 to 24.9.

Approximately two billion adults in the world are overweight, nearly a third of them obese. The number of obese people has tripled since 1975.

The study revealed important differences between countries depending on income level.

In high-income nations, for example, the study found that rural BMI were generally already higher in 1985, especially for women.

Lower income and education levels, the high cost and limited availability of healthy foods, dependence on vehicles, the phasing out of manual labour — all of these factors likely contributed to progressive weight gain.

Conversely, urban areas “provide a wealth of opportunities for better nutrition, more physical exercise and recreation, and overall improved health,” Ezzati said.

Around 55 percent of the world’s population live in cities or satellite communities, with that figure set to rise to 68 percent by mid-century, according to the United Nations.

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The most urbanised regions in the world are North America (82 percent), Latin America and the Caribbean (81 percent) and Europe (74 percent).

More recently, the proportion of overweight and obese adults in the rural parts of many low- and middle-income countries is also rising more quickly than in cites.

“Rural areas in these countries have begun to resemble urban areas,” Barry Popkin, an expert on global public health at the University of North Carolina, said in a comment, also in Nature.

“Modern food supply is now available in combination with cheap mechanised devices for farming and transport,” he added. “Ultra-processed foods are also becoming part of the diets of poor people.”

At a country level, several findings stand out.

Some of the largest BMI increases from 1985 to 2017 among men were in China, the United States, Bahrain, Peru and the Dominican Republic, adding an average of 8-9 kilos per adult.

Women in Egypt and Honduras added — on average, across urban and rural areas — even more.

Rural women in Bangladesh, and men living in rural Ethiopia, had the lowest average BMI in 1985, at 17.7 and 18.4 respectively, just under the threshold of healthy weight. Both cohorts were well above that threshold by 2017.

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The populations — both men and women — in small South Pacific island nations have among the highest BMI levels in the world, often well above 30.

“The NDC Risk Factor Collaboration challenges us to create programmes and policies that are rurally focused to prevent weight gain”, Popkin said.

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I chose writing to escape unemployment



I write because I cannot not write,” Koki Oyuke emotes as a response to my question of why she writes. She talks of how she has always loved

writing from a young age. How she wrote poems in primary school, but was never courageous nor confident enough in herself to publish them. How she got the idea for the just published book, Chosen not Cheated in 2012, in her final year at university, but would wait for several years to start writing it.

Koki grew up in a loving family where her creativity was nurtured as her parents pushed her to be all she could be. She went to a boarding primary school, Kangundo Junior Academy in Kangundo, and proceeded to Kenya High School, Nairobi in 2004. She then went on to acquire a degree in Marketing and Advertising from Daystar University with a PR elective between 2008 and 2012.

After a short internship at Isuzu, Koki joined the advertising industry doubling as client service and as a copywriter. She later quit the industry in pursuit of her entrepreneurial dream. She had a design business where she would make art, mugs and décor pieces with witty captions meant to heal and teach. She poured her all into her business and would later start an eponymous blog in 2015, with the aim of spreading magic and stardust across the Internet from her keyboard.

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Unique paths

Entrepreneurship and, especially breaking even is hard for any business. She learnt this soon enough. She spent her free time applying for jobs, buckling under the societal pressure of what a career or life should look like. It was in the waiting and praying for a high paying job like her college mates that she learnt that we are all meant for different things and that everyone has their own unique path. She learnt that even with different life paths, occupations and vocations, that one can still impact lives.

She then threw herself head on into writing and editing books, building on her copywriting skills and owning this space as her occupation and vocation. Koki talks of how the need to speak to people to be themselves as part of the reason she wrote her book. She still uses her blog for that, but more so her book to push and hopefully inspire people out of any rut they might be struck in no matter the sphere of life they might be in.

“I hope the book inspires readers and shows them just how unique and important their different life paths and experiences are,” the writer and books editor explains.

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“I had this idea of what an author looks like and what their life story should be. I did not feel like they were like me, so I put off writing this book for quite some time. It took a lot of support from friends and family and some introspection to finally put pen to paper. And several more years to research, finish writing, design the book and release it in August 2019,” she further elaborates.

Her advise to budding writers is for them to read a lot and on varied subjects too. She loves reading and does so extensively. From the Bible, personal development books to fictional tomes, she loves getting lost in the pages of a book. Austin Kleon, is one of her favourite authors with his titles such as Show Your Work, Steal Like an Artist and Keep Going being regular place holders in her reading schedule.

Point to note

While it is hard to pick one best read or just one author who has influenced her, Julia Cameron with her book, The Artist’s Way is somewhere near the top of her list as the book helps any creative artist explore themselves and regain confidence in their art if going through a creative block. The book helped her on her writing journey, both while blogging and penning her book.

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Koki also seeks to deconstruct the need for perfect —the perfect backstory to that personal project or the need for that project to be perfect. She advises budding writers to not be incapacitated by the daunting task ahead and to just start chipping away at it immediately, by starting to write anyway.

“Just write. It does not have to be good. But the great news is you can always rewrite and tighten your manuscript. Do not wait for the perfect time to write, or the perfect idea, or the perfect version of yourself that would make for a great author bio. Show up where you are, how you are, confident or not and just start moving and keep moving,” she says in conclusion.


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Kenyan Diaspora baffled by BBI taskforce for ignored recommendations



By Lister Nyaringo

There is still room to reconsider factoring some of the proposals presented by the Kenyan diaspora

The much-awaited building bridges initiative (BBI) is finally out.

Kenyans who have read the report and fully dissected the good and the bad in the document are slowly opening up and pointing out the pros and cons of the document.

The Senator Yusuf Haji led team should be commended for putting the document which has set the stage for an intensive debate from Kenyans about how they want their country to run.

The BBI captures many positive aspects which, if implemented will positively impact development in the country.

One notable aspect is the decentralization of development funds.

The kitty proposed for Members of County Assemblies (MCAs) is laudable.

Through the MCAs kitty, MPs CDF kitty, and the County kitty through the governor; this is likely to boost development at the grassroots in addition to other development initiatives by the national government.

Giving graduates a 7-year grace period to repay their student loans through University Education Loans board (HELB) is a brilliant move.

However, to make it more meaningful, the government should be ready to put up mechanisms that will create jobs for the graduates since giving them a payment break merely postponing a problem.

“It’s perplexing that senator Yusuf Haji’s team could not pick even a single recommendation submitted by the diaspora after the team’s mandate was extended in december 2019. This displeasure doesn’t mean the diaspora will reject or campaign against the document.

“Giving graduates a 7-year grace period to repay their student loans through University Education Loans board (HELB) is a brilliant move. However, to make it more meaningful, the government should be ready to put up mechanisms that will create jobs for the graduates since giving them a payment break merely postponing a problem.”

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Therefore, Kenyans living in Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa are appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to urgently address their concerns as a reflection that they care about inclusivity and democratic participation of all Kenyans irrespective of where they reside.

There is still room to reconsider factoring some of the proposals presented by the Kenyan diaspora.

President Kenyatta is a product of the diaspora and should be the last person to stifle diaspora aspirations in regard to good governance.

On the other hand, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader Raila Odinga, who continues to enjoy the highest percentage of diaspora support, should be at the frontline to defend their aspirations.

“Our voices must be heard; our challenges and aspirations must be captured in the process of governance of our country. This is the surest way to feel a sense of belonging as Kenyans.” Said Samuel Ondicho of Minnesota.

Ms Mary Jacinta, a Kenya living in Germany expressed outrage after realizing that no single recommendation from the diaspora was included in the final report even after submitting the proposals in time.

“We matter as Kenyans; relegating us to the periphery when we contribute massively to the country’s economy is a travesty to democracy, inclusivity, and fair play. We are Kenya’s frontline ambassadors and our ideas cannot be trashed as if we don’t exist.” Said Lister Nyaringo who is also the President of the Kenya Patriotic Movement, a diaspora lobby based in The US.

The Kenyan diaspora cherishes good governance, freedom, justice, and fairness.

In this spirit, they feel sugar-coated by politicians who only reach out to them during elections for strategic support.

Inclusivity in a country means that all segments of the population must be heard and directly involved in their country’s affairs.

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How do you ignore a section of the population who are the fourth highest contributor of the funds that run the country?

According to statistics from the Central Bank of Kenya, the Diaspora sent home through inter-bank transfers $209 million (Ksh20.94 billion) and $245 million (Ksh24.55 billion) in January 2018 and January 2019 respectively.

These figures could be higher if remittances through MoneyGram, Wave, and other online platforms were factored in the estimates.

Kenyans will always remain Kenyans before and after settling abroad. Ignoring their voice in the just-released BBI report is demeaning their intelligence and know-how.

The Kenya Patriotic Movement and other affiliated groups which represent the diaspora interests proposed the creation of a Diaspora Constituency to address issues faced by Kenyans living abroad in our legislature.

Is this asking for too much when other interest groups continue to be listened to?

The diaspora also proposed that a Ministry of Diaspora Affairs are created and headed by one of them, similar to that of Israel and India.

Both India and Israel have a well-established and organized diaspora that significantly contributes to the development of their nations. In fact, medical tourism in India is a product of the country’s Diaspora.

In order to fully avail themselves in the service of their motherland, the diaspora proposed the removal of the Clause in 2010 Constitution that bars holders of dual citizenship from holding and running for public office in the level of State officer.

The clause is archaic, discriminatory, and a violation of one’s birthright.

The diaspora also raised concerns about over-representation given the shrinking financial resources caused by over-borrowing by the current government.

The general perspective of Kenyans living abroad is that Kenya has a bloated legislature.

What is the logic in a nation of about 50 million people having 425 elected representatives in the two legislative chambers?

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If the current BBI document is implemented, it will further strain taxpayers who will pay for the increased number of Senators and MPs.

The Diaspora also suggested the fusing of small constituencies and counties to cut costs.

Kenyans will be strained in funding the expanded executive-the President, vice president, Prime Minister and two deputies plus a fully funded office of the leader of the opposition.

Diaspora voting rights despite vividly captured in Section 38 (3) (a) of the constitution, continues to be a mirage despite assurances in every election cycle. The same is not addressed in the BBI.

The say, when the deal is too good, think twice. Kenya has faced great challenges related to historical injustices.

This is perhaps the reason for disharmony amongst the Kenyan communities especially during and after a general election.

Key commissions like the famous Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), The Ndungu Land Report (NLR) continue to gather dust, yet the BBI report failed to capture any of this.

Leaving the issue of land in the new BBI report is postponing the challenges Kenyans have experienced for many years.

Piecemeal interventions through changing the books without looking at the core reasons for our present predicaments won’t heal Kenya.

The diaspora suggested the establishment of a Justice fund to offer reparations to victims and families who have suffered electoral injustices since 1992.

The same could have enabled these victims to put to closure their agony.

It’s imperative that the diaspora issues are reconsidered as the country enters into a rigorous debate about the BBI.

It’s not too late.

If it fails, the diaspora will conclude that the government has completely ignored the critical role they play in nation-building.

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Missing Kenyan teenager Ike Ngatia of California found safe and sound



The Kenyan Diaspora teenager missing in Riverside, California Ike Ngatia was found and he is safe and sound.

Ike Ngatia is 15 years old and was reported missing from October 8th, 2020.

A family member who broke the news was excited and shared this message,

“For those of y’all who helped share this post Thank you !!! Ike Ngatia made it safe home to his family”

Another family member wrote this “Thank you LORD!!! Our SON is safe!! Tears of joy in our community tonight are real. THANK YOU COMMUNITY for doing your part. There’s power in prayers.”

The success in finding Ike is another good news for the Kenyan Diaspora community and is the second good thing that happened this month after Daniel Mwangi who was also reported missing in Lawrence Massachusetts on October 16 2020 was also later found safe and sound.

Unfortunately, the Kenyan woman Olga Ooro who went missing from her home in downtown Washington D.C has not been found and is assumed dead.

The boyfriend Darnell Sterling, 55, of Southeast D.C was charged with the killing of Olga.


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