Overweight and obesity are rising steadily among adults living with HIV.
A joint study by Ministry of Health, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Nascop and WFP showed that more women than men are at risk of lifestyle conditions due to the abdominal fat redistribution predisposing them to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
Three categories of clients were considered, which included those on preventive treatment, those on Anti Retroviral Therapy (ART) for less than six months (Early ART) and those who had been on ART more than six months (Late ART).
The joint study involving 2,611 HIV positive adults aged 15 years and above was done in September to December 2012 in eight regions in Kenya at Comprehensive Care facilities to provide an insight at improving the nutritional status of Persons Living With HIV (PLWHIV) in Kenya.
“The findings suggest that both the male and female clients were at high risk of developing metabolic syndrome due to the abdominal fat redistribution, with more women at risk than men. Overweight/obesity was 23 per cent, 15.7 per cent and 20.4 per cent in Pre ART, Early and Late ART respectively. ,” read excerpts of the study seen by The Standard on Saturday.
These findings were presented as the National Nutrition Week that ended yesterday at Kenyatta International Conference Centre, with calls to eat the right foods in adequate amounts in the recommended frequency to prevent and manage non-communicable diseases.
Cabinet Secretary of Health James Macharia, said Kenya faces the double burden of over nutrition and malnutrition and called for measures to address these parallels.
“Adequate foods of high quality among PLWHIV is necessary to maintain the immune system, prevent opportunistic infections and sustain healthy levels of physical activity,” he said.
The researchers also found out that cereals and vegetables were the most consumed food groups.
“Malnutrition remains a challenge with stunting levels of 35 per cent and wasting at 16 per cent with high levels of deficiencies in Vitamin A, iron and zinc, all which have proven to be an underlying cause of child mortality,” said Mr Macharia.
Nutritionists called for a reconsideration of indigenous foods. Gladys Mugambi cited the importance of eating the right foods in a society where more people are advancing towards cheap, fatty, unhealthy foods.
By Joy Wanja, The Standard