It’s well accepted that reduced physical activity and fast food are linked to the burden of obesity in Kenya. But the evidence that these are the main causes of obesity is largely circumstantial. To stimulate debate, experts suggest 10 other possible causes of obesity, outlined in the International Journal of Obesity.
Sleep debt. Getting too little sleep can increase body weight. Today, many get less shut-eye than ever. This is because of a fast paced Kenyan economy demanding more working times than sleeping times.
- Pollution. Hormones control body weight. And many of today’s pollutants affect our hormones. This has led to an increased in the burden of obesity in Kenya.
- Air conditioning. You have to burn calories if your environment is too hot or too cold for comfort. But more people than ever live and work in temperature-controlled homes and offices. This has affected the natural body burning mechanism of the body, hence and increase in weight and obesity in Kenya.
- Decreased smoking. Smoking reduces weight. More people have quit smoking because of it’s effects on the body, as it interferes with the body’s metabolism rate. A small group of people who are obese in Kenya are as a result of quitting smoking. The body reacts fast to compensate for weight lost hence an evidence of weight gain.
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- Medicine. Many different drugs including Kenya contraceptives, steroid hormones, diabetes drugs, some antidepressants, and blood pressure drugs can cause weight gain. Use of these drugs is on the upswing. A god number of people are on these drugs,
- Population age: The older you get, the slower your metabolism and fat metabolism, hence and increase in weight an obesity. Age also comes with slow physical activities,
- Older moms. There’s some evidence that the older a woman is when she gives birth, the higher her child’s risk of obesity. Women are giving birth at older and older ages.
- Ancestors’ environment. Some influences may go back two generations. Environmental changes that made a grandparent obese may “through a fetally driven positive feedback loop” visit obesity on the grandchildren.
- Obesity linked to fertility. There’s some evidence obese people are more fertile than lean ones. If obesity has a genetic component, the percentage of obese people in the population should increase.
- Unions of obese spouses. Obese women tend to marry obese men, and if obesity has a genetic component, there will be still more obese people in the next generation.
These other contributing factors to the burden of obesity in Kenya deserve more attention and study. Even more explanations include: a fat-inducing virus; increases in childhood depression; less consumption of dairy products; and hormones used in agriculture. What do you think can be attributed to the epidemic?