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Modern Diet And Sedentary Lifestyle: What’s The Impact On Our Health?

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Food systems emerged with the dawn of civilization when agriculture, including the domestication of animals, set the stage for permanent settlements. Inhabitants could grow more crops and raise more animals than necessary to feed those who tended them.

This changed human culture; unlike earlier hunter-gatherers, agriculturalists did not need to be in constant motion to find new sources of food. That set the stage for the current dual system where there are food producers in the rural areas and city or town dwellers who rely on the surplus foods grown in the rural areas or even imported from other countries.

“As time becomes more expensive in the urban areas, there is increasing consumer demand for “ready-to-eat” foods has fueled the growth of quick-service restaurants and fully cooked, frozen dishes that only require reheating, further expanding supply chains,

This modern food is usually attractively processed that includes flavors and spices and attractively packed and marketed that sends the message that it is a modern and great food that is more nutritious. This encourages people to associate the processed and well-marketed food to be better and more nutritious’ observes Dr. Sindi. According to Dr. Christophe W. Ngendahayo, air and climate health expert, and founder of Air Health Now — working at Kibagabaga Hospital, “the term ‘processed’ is commonly used to describe certain foods with low nutritional value, including snacks, desserts, and carbonated beverage. Dr. Kirimi Sindi, an agricultural economist, and a food system expert adds that“highly processed or ultra-processed foods like bread, biscuits, breakfast cereals, sugar, maize flour, wheat flour, cassava, spaghetti, noodles are full of carbohydrates and most of the other nutrients have been removed. Therefore, he says, most people are eating ‘too much energy’ or “empty calories.

He notes that when it comes to dining out, people eat foods like French fries, bread, burgers, ice cream, and drink soda and beer, all of which are full of sugar. This, Sindi says, combined with our sedentary lifestyle, becomes an issue.“When this happens, the excess energy taken in is converted to fat, creating high chances of becoming obese. Dr. Sindi goes on to add that these foods, coupled with sedentary lifestyles, lead to many non-communicable diseases that as a result of our lifestyle and hence called “lifestyle diseases”.

“Heavily processed foods are often high in sugar, fat, and empty calories. Consuming lots of these foods has long been linked to an increased risk of a wide variety of health problems that can lead to heart disease or an early grave, such as obesity, high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, cancer, and depression” observes Dr. Sindi. “There is an association between the consumption of ultra-processed foods and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases when all lifestyle factors were accounted for, and these associations are not fully explained by the nutritional quality of these ultra-processed foods,” lead study author Bernard Srour of the University of Paris.

“Frequent consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with poorer health, and more mortality,” said Maira Bes-Rastrollo of the University of Navarra, senior author of a mortality study. However, Dr. Sindi observes that it is good to note that not all processing is bad. “Most food needs some degree of processing, and not all processed foods are bad for the body. Mechanical processing — such as grinding beef, heating vegetables, or pasteurizing foods — does not necessarily make foods unhealthful. If the processing does not add chemicals or ingredients, it does not tend to lessen the healthfulness of the food.

The problem is usually chemically processed foods. These often only contain refined ingredients and artificial substances, with little nutritional value. They tend to have added chemical flavoring agents, colors, and sweeteners as observed at the beginning of this article. “Most of us in the cities live a life where we rarely move much. Most of our time we are in an office or a shop sitting or on our couches in the evening with a domestic worker who does most of the house chores. When we want to go even a short distance, we have to use a moto (motorcycle), taxi, or our private cars,

For these reasons, we cannot spend the energy we eat in a day hence this is converted to fat thus the increasing rate of obesity,” he says.“It is interesting that we eat too many carbs and then we have to go to the gym to exercise it off. This is the paradox of the modern lifestyles in the cities” Dr. Sindi observes. Ngendahayo says food is a fundamental part of society; however, it is also at the centre of many challenges we face now and will likely continue to face in the future from a health, social, economic, and environmental perspective.

Ngendahayo points out that for many, traditional diets are being replaced by processed fast foods where fat and sugar have become the cheapest way to get calories, cheaper than staples like grains, beans, lentils, or fruits and vegetables.

The implications

As mentioned above one of the results of a sedentary city lifestyle is obesity. World Health Organization (WHO) defines overweight and obesity as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health. Body mass index (BMI) is used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. Overweight is when BMI is greater than or equal to 25; and obesity is BMI greater than or equal to 30. The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns, WHO notes, are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with the development, and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, and food processing, among others.

Overweight and obesity is a new epidemic globally, Ngendahayo says, we are experiencing health and environmental disasters, with rising rates of obesity and non-communicable diseases and severe challenges posed by climate change. Globally, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and older were overweight in 2016.  Of these, over 650 million adults were obese. In Rwanda, according to the available statistics from Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC); overall, the Rwanda NCD survey found that 2.8% are obese, 14.3% are overweight and 7.8% underweight.

Obesity is prevalent in the age group 35 to 54 and females account for 4.7%. Additionally, the prevalence of obesity is more predominant in urban areas with 10.2% and Kigali City with 7.7%. Overweight and obesity are linked to millions of deaths worldwide more than underweight and are the fifth highest risk factor for death, according to WHO. Low-income economies are also starting to suffer from these lifestyle diseases. “This is a big burden to the country’s health system and is very costly to manage,” observes Dr. Sindi. “These diseases cause enormous human loss and impose heavy costs on health systems. They also reduce overall productivity by killing and disabling people in their productive years,” he adds.

Way forward

Private Kamanzi, a nutritionist at Amazon Nutrition Cabinet, Kigali, says eating a healthy diet and being physically active is essential as it will keep these conditions at bay. He notes that turning to whole foods reduces, or cutting off processed and sugary drinks, is vital as well. Given the threats we are faced with particularly by obesity and overweight, Ngendahayo says urgent radical change is required. “Government and non-government organizations have vital roles to play in changing the policies and practices that shape behavior around diet and physical activity,” he says.

These, he says, include the trade, agriculture, transport, and other urban planning policies that determine whether people have healthy options, as well as investment in education, media, and marketing that influence people’s choices. Experts say there is a lot of measures government and individuals can take to alleviate this problem. Effective public health measures are urgently needed to promote physical activity and improve health around the world. The challenge of promoting physical activity is as much the responsibility of governments, as of the people. However, individual action for physical activity is influenced by the environment, sports and recreational facilities, and national policy.

It requires coordination among many sectors, such as health, sports, education and culture policy, media and information, transport, urban planning, local governments, and financial and economic planning, according to the experts.

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Rwanda Police Chief Briefs 240 Officers Ahead Of S. Sudan Deployment

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The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dan Munyuza, on Tuesday, March 9, briefed 240 police officers set to be deployed for peacekeeping duties under the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

The pre-deployment briefing of the hybrid Formed Police Unit-One (FPU-1) contingent was held at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.

The contingent commanded by Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) Faustin Kalimba, will replaced the same number in Malakal, Upper Nile State where they will be largely charged with protection of civilians in internally displaced camps, UN personnel, security of key installations and humanitarian assistance, among others.

IGP Munyuza urged the officers to use their experience and the high level of training acquired to execute their peacekeeping mandate effectively.

He further reminded them that they will work with other peacekeepers from different countries and they will have to exercise respect of diversity.

“Learning will be continuous throughout your tour-of-duty, use your experience to build on what your predecessors achieved, cooperative with other peacekeepers in the mission area and respect the people under your protection as well as their culture,” IGP Munyuza emphasized.

He urged them to keep up the good conduct and protect the image set by previous contingents adding that ” you are representing your country, be at the best of your performance.”

“Your country and Rwanda National Police in particular, have full trust in you, resilience and sacrifice are key. Remember, your conduct and professionalism will depict the image and values of Rwandans, ensure your performance is exceptionally good and maintain the same spirit to the end of your mission,” said IGP Munyuza.

The Police Chief reminded them that Rwandan peacekeepers are defined by their professionalism, discipline, teamwork, integrity, values and alertness, and urged them to keep the momentum to “maintain and protect the image and reputation.”

He emphasized that respecting each other and their superiors in particular, discipline, hard work, teamwork, dignity and respect for diversity are strong guiding values and principles which will help them towards mission excellence.

IGP Munyuza appealed to the officers to maintain the spirit of supporting others and to engage in human security activities with the local people they are mandated to serve.

‘’Participating in human security activities is our culture as Rwandans, you should not only conduct peacekeeping duties just to maintain peace and security. It goes beyond that as our tradition to work towards the overall wellbeing of the people,” IGP Munyuza said.

As the wolrd is still faced with the pandemic of COVID-19, the Police Chief reminded them to always observe all health guidelines including wearing face masks, avoiding shaking hands, washing hands and practicing social distancing, among others.

This will be the sixth rotation of FPU-1 hybrid since the first one was deployed in South Sudan in 2015.

It is also one of the three Rwandan FPU contingents currently deployed in South Sudan.

Currently, RNP maintains over 1000 police peacekeepers in various UN missions, including six contingents serving in UNMISS and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA).

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Chinese Companies Win Tender to Construct Railway From Mwanza to Isaka 

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The Standard Gauge Railway from Mwanza to Isaka in neighbouring Tanzania will be constructed by two Chinese Companies that have won a lucrative tender for this job.

Prof. Palamagamba Kabudi Tanzania’s foreign minister said on Thursday during a presser on the eve of the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi’s two-day visit to Tanzania.

The Mwanza-Isaka railway stretch will cover a distance of 341 kilometres and construction is estimated to cost TShs3 trillion will be handled by China Civil Engineering Construction (CCEC) and China Railway Construction Company (CRCC).

The Tanzanian government through the Tanzania Railway Corporation (TRC) is constructing a 2,561Km SGR network that links Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Kigoma, Katavi and neighboring countries of Rwanda, Burundi Uganda and DRC.

The over Sh7 trillion project is being implemented in phases with the first round covering 202km between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, was initially scheduled to be ready by November 2020 but heavy rains disrupted construction works.

Construction of the first and the second phase is being undertaken by Turkish construction company, Yapi Markez.

The first phase will have six main stations at Dar es Salaam, Pugu, Soga, Ruvu, Ngerengere and Morogoro, with the Dar es Salaam and Morogoro stations being the largest.

The second phase which is under implementation involves 422km between Morogoro and Makutupora in Singida with the project set to be completed within 36 months at a cost of $1,924 billion.

The railway is East Africa’s fastest and will use electricity to move trains will travel at 160km per hour and transport 10,000 tonnes of freight which is equivalent to 500 cargo trucks.

Upon completion, the SGR project is expected to payback the investment value after 15 years.

In October 2020, Tanzania government signed $60 million (about Sh138 billion) contract with a South Korean firm to supply trains for the standard gauge railway (SGR).

 

The Citizen

 

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Trump Attacks Election Integrity As Biden Nears 270 Electoral College Votes

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President Donald Trump is testing how far he can go in using the trappings of presidential power to undermine confidence in this week’s election against Joe Biden, as the Democrat contender gained ground in tight contests in some key battleground states.

With his pathway to re-election appearing to shrink, Trump has advanced unsupported accusations of voter fraud to falsely argue that his rival was trying to seize power. Thursday’s moves amounted to an extraordinary effort by a sitting American president to sow doubt about the democratic process.

“This is a case when they are trying to steal an election, they are trying to rig an election,” Trump said from the podium of the White House briefing room.

The president’s remarks deepened a sense of anxiety in the U.S. as Americans enter their third full day after the election without knowing who would serve as president for the next four years.

His statements also prompted a rebuke from some Republicans, particularly those looking to steer the party in a different direction in a post-Trump era.

Electoral college magic number

Neither candidate has reached the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the White House. But Biden eclipsed Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan, two crucial Midwestern battleground states, and has been inching closer to overtaking the president in Pennsylvania and Georgia, where votes are still being counted. It remains unclear when a national winner will be declared after a long, bitter campaign dominated by the coronavirus and its effects on Americans and the national economy.

On Wednesday, The U.S.set another record for daily confirmed cases as several states posted all-time highs. The pandemic has killed more than 233,000 people in the United States.

Rising tensions

Biden spent Thursday trying to ease tensions and project a more traditional image of presidential leadership. After participating in a coronavirus briefing, he declared that “each ballot must be counted.”

“I ask everyone to stay calm. The process is working,” Biden said. “It is the will of the voters. No one, not anyone else who chooses the president of the United States of America.”

 

Biden’s victories in the upper Midwest put him in a strong position, but Trump showed no sign of giving up. It could take several more days for the vote count to conclude and a clear winner to emerge. With millions of ballots yet to be tabulated, Biden already had received more than 73 million votes, the most in history.

Trump’s erroneous claims about the integrity of the election challenged Republicans now faced with the choice of whether to break with a president who, though his grip on his office grew tenuous, commanded sky-high approval ratings from rank-and-file members of the GOP.

Lawsuits and late mail-in ballots

Trump’s campaign engaged in a flurry of legal activity to try to improve the Republican president’s chances, requesting a recount in Wisconsin and filing lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia. Judges in Georgia and Michigan quickly dismissed Trump campaign lawsuits there on Thursday.

Trump has held a small edge in Georgia, though Biden has been gaining on him as votes continue to be counted. The same is true in Pennsylvania, where Trump’s lead had slipped to about 22,000 votes — and the race is destined to get tighter.

One reason is because elections officials were not allowed to process mail-in ballots until Election Day under state law. It’s a form of voting that has skewed heavily in Biden’s favour after Trump spent months claiming without proof that voting by mail would lead to widespread voter fraud.

Mail ballots from across the state were overwhelmingly breaking in Biden’s direction. A final vote total may not be clear for days because the use of mail-in ballots, which take more time to process, has surged as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.

The AP has declared Biden the winner in Arizona and said Thursday that it was monitoring the vote count as it proceeded.

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