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New survey reveals 23% of Gambian women are overweight
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New survey reveals 23% of Gambian women are overweight

At least four out of every twenty women in The Gambia display unhealthy levels of body fat as 23 per cent of them are found to be clinically obese.

A national survey report published recently by the Gambia Bureau of Statistics reveals that women in the country have been piling on the kilos and are overweight.

But there are regional variations. Women living in urban Gambia - Greater Banjul Area – are more likely to be overweight than women in the provinces.

The report states: “Women living in the rural areas are more likely to be thin (20 percent) than those living in the urban areas (14 percent), while urban women are more likely to be overweight or obese than rural women (27 percent versus 17 percent).

“At the Local Governance and Administration level, the proportion of thin women is highest in Janjanbureh (24 percent and lowest in Kanifing 11 percent).”

Overweight is a new trend not peculiar to The Gambia, it’s a growing problem which is reported to reach epidemic proportions in Africa. A report by Overseas Development Institute revealed in 2014 that obesity in developing world has risen 250 million to almost 1 billion in fewer than three decades.

Experts believe overweight is caused mainly by increased wealth amid consumption of diets high in sugar, fat, and salt - a proposition that seems true for Gambia.

“The percentage of women who are thin tends to decrease with increasing wealth,” the survey report confirmed.

However, a famous UK-based Gambian fitness instructor, Abs Ceesay, who wasn’t ‘surprised’ about the survey’s findings, went further to argue that many Gambian women don’t pay attention to their health as much as men.

According to him, the demands of having a career and managing a family may cause many women to pack on the kilos.

Abs said: “Stress causes the body to go into crisis mode. As a result, the body begins to slow down and store fat.”

He added: “Another reason why women are gaining weight is because they don't eat enough. When you aren't consuming enough food, the metabolism slows down and the body begins to store fat.”

Abs advised people to ‘start hitting the gym to burn some fat and eat healthy.’

But one interesting aspect of this finding is how it co-exists with a similar report which reveals high level of malnutrition in the country.

Precisely, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has revealed that 24.4 percent of Gambian children under age five suffer from stunted growth as a result of malnutrition.

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