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Obesity rising faster in rural areas globally

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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.

source:nation.co.ke

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US official urges patience on Kenya graft cases

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A top US law enforcement urged frustrated Kenyans on Thursday to “be a little bit patient” concerning the outcome of corruption cases.

“Anti-corruption investigations are particularly complex,” Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Heather Merritt said in a press briefing.

“They tend to involve multiple jurisdictions because often corrupt officials are able to move assets amongst various jurisdictions both within your country and internationally,” Ms Merritt added.

She was speaking in response to a reporter’s question about the paucity of corruption convictions in Kenya.

Ms Merritt, who heads the State Department’s bureau of international narcotics and law enforcement, also cited US efforts to strengthen Kenya’s police service and to develop programmes intended to curb impunity.

She noted that she had co-chaired discussions on security and democracy as part of the recent US-Kenya Bilateral Strategic Dialogue held in Washington.

The US pledged in that forum to provide “technical and operational assistance” to the internal affairs unit of the Kenya police service as well as to the Independent Policing Oversight Authority.

Ms Merritt emphasised that corruption can most effectively be addressed through strong national institutions that enforce accountability.

“It is all about stopping impunity,” she said. “It’s about society’s demanding accountability, but most of all it’s about developing strong independent institutions that are able to combat corruption across the criminal justice sector.”

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The US official rejected arguments that corruption can be eliminated by increasing low salaries paid to law-enforcement personnel in poor countries.

“Adequate salaries are not enough,” Ms Merritt declared. “Even in countries where officials are very well paid, there are sometimes people who fall prey unfortunately to corruption and so we have got to do everything we can to strengthen institutions.”

She pointed to the example of the corruption scandal that shook the world football authority known as Fifa a few years ago.

“It’s not because (former Fifa head) Sepp Blatter was underpaid,” Ms Merritt said. “It’s not because the Fifa commissioners around the world were underpaid that they were susceptible to bribes… They made a decision to engage in corruption.”

The Fifa scandals were exposed because “there were institutions that were able to do investigations to hold accountable those who were involved,” Ms Merritt noted.

She also sounded an alarm about “burgeoning illicit markets” in Africa.

“Wildlife poaching and trafficking represents an escalating international security and conservation crisis,” Ms Merritt warned. “What we are seeing now in many of your countries is coordinated slaughter which was commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates.”

source:nation.co.ke

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Kenyans lose millions as Suraya housing project collapses

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A number of Kenyans have found themselves counting losses in millions of shillings after the Suraya projects failed.

This despite the off-plan investment gaining popularity in the country.

Lynx -Royal Estate, a development under the Suraya Properties Limited, is a real estate developer that has now earned itself a bad record.

According to Wairimu Thimba, an investor, the said property was to be completed in 2014, with the payment plan being in instalments.

The final instalment being after the keys were handed over to the investors.

“We have tried reaching out and they can’t answer… I go there and they do not do anything,” said Wairimu.

It was after a series of unanswered emails that forced her together with the other aggrieved investors to visit the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) on Thursday to record their statements as well as pay a visit to the Suraya properties offices to at least have the matter sorted. But all that was in vain.

Skyrocketing housing prices and unpredictable rent regimes have witnessed emergence of ‘smart’ investors in Nairobi who buy apartments off-plan at discounted prices, where one gets to investment or buys the property before it is completed.

It is a risk which despite offering flexible mode of payments, and an opportunity for an investor to own property at an affordable rate.

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Sometimes the developer might halt the project which according to Beatrice Wachuka, research analyst at the Cytonn Investments, should be a cause for alarm for any investor.

“You have to keep on visiting the sites to know, most times when it stops it is because, there is disagreement between contractors, or lack of capital,” said Wachuka.

“I feel they started these projects and then another without channeling our money where it was meant to build, it was just greed,” lamented Wairimu.

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Samburu governor free to travel to US

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An Anti-Corruption Court has allowed Samburu Governor Moses Kasaine Lenolkulal, who is facing a Sh84 million corruption charge, to travel to the United States for one week.

Governor Lenolkulal was on Friday given his passport for the trip that will see him attend a Masters class programme.

The prosecution protested, saying the county chief was evading justice and seeking to extend his trial, but Senior Principal Magistrate Felix Kombo said he did not make the request in bad faith.

The magistrate, however, asked Mr Lenolkulal to return the passport within 48 hours of returning to the country.

“Education is an important activity and this court should not stop it. I find no reason [to conclude that the] accused is attempting to prolong his trial,” he said.

“The court is hereby pleased to order release of the governor’s passport for a limited period to enable him travel to the US from June 3 to June 10.”

Since a pre-trial conference will be held on June 5, the magistrate asked Mr Lenolkulal’s lawyers to ensure they represent him.

The governor was also ordered to avail a surety for the period he will be out of the court’s jurisdiction as well as a guarantee that he will attend the trial.

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Mr Lenolkulal is pursuing an international module at New York University. His lawyers noted it is crucial to the fulfilment of the requirements for his Masters programme.

The governor was charged in April and released on the highest-ever cash bail of Sh 100 million, with alternative of Sh150 million bond with a surety of the same amount.

His challenge at the High Court saw the figure reduced to Sh 10 million.

The court also asked the director of the Integrated Financial Management System (Ifmis) to deny Mr Lenolkulal and 13 other county officials access in order to safeguard public funds.

They were all charged with conspiring to commit corruption, leading to the unlawful payment of Sh 84,695,996 to Mr Lenolkulal through a petrol station known as Oryx Service Station.

The offense was allegedly committed between March 27, 2013 and March 25, 2019 in Maralal town.

Mr Lenolkulal was also charged with unlawful acquisition of Sh84.6 million from the county as well as abuse office by allegedly conferring a benefit to himself through paying his company the said monies.

The matter of conflict of interest came up as he was also accused of knowingly acquiring direct private interest by supplying fuel to the county through his petrol station.

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source:nation.co.ke

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