By Angela Onwuzoo

A Professor of Public Health Nutrition, Ignatius Onimawo, has said that it is dangerous to overheat cooking oils, warning that eating foods cooked with such oil increases the risk of heart attack, hypertension, and stroke.

Prof. Onimawo, a former Vice-Chancellor, Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, said overheating vegetable oil converts it to trans fat, warning that trans fat is injurious to health.

According to him, trans fats are the worst type of fat that an individual can eat, stressing that trans fats have no known health benefits and are a major contributor to cardiovascular disease and stroke worldwide.

Speaking in an interview with PUNCH HealthWise, the nutritionist noted that when vegetable oils are overheated continuously, they get converted into trans fatty acids and cause inflammation.

The former Nutrition Society of Nigeria President explained, “When you reuse vegetable oil or any cooking oil for that matter, and you do it more than twice, the tendency is that, if you are continuously heating the oil, the fatty acid composition of the oil can be transformed into trans fatty acid.

“When you are frying, the temperature of the oil is high. Then after that the same oil, you use it again and the temperature is high.

“By the time you are using it the third or the fourth time, there is going to be a transformation of the fatty acid. They will be converted into what we call trans fatty acids.

“These trans fatty acids are responsible for cardiovascular diseases. They even cause cardiovascular diseases more than saturated fats.

“That is why we normally advise, that if you have used oil more than once or twice, it is better to discard it.”

Mayo Clinic – a medical centre focused on integrated health care, education, and research, says trans fat is considered the worst type of fat to eat.

“Unlike other dietary fats, trans fats — also called trans-fatty acids — raise “bad” cholesterol and also lowers “good” cholesterol.

“A diet laden with trans fats increases the risk of heart disease, the leading killer of adults. The more trans fats eaten, the greater the risk of heart and blood vessel disease,” the clinic noted.

Continuing, the don said, “Because the body cannot handle them, they are the ones that normally form plagues or deposits along the arteries.

“Sometimes, they form these plagues along some of the organs. So, you find out that these trans fats are more deadly than saturated fatty acids.

“Most of the saturated acids themselves lead to deposition of fats in the tissues. This leads to a build-up of pressure on the arteries and veins.

“They deposit fats inside the arteries where blood passes through and sometimes, outside the arteries. “

Prof. Onimawo said that the build of fats around and inside the blood vessels could lead to hypertension.

“They (trans fatty acids) hardened the arteries which are supposed to be flexible. So, when the plagues are there, that particular blood vessel becomes non-flexible.”

“And therefore, when it is not flexible, it cannot expand to accommodate

pressure and if that happens continuously, the blood pressure begins to increase and sometimes, that is the origin of high blood pressure.

“If this continues, you know that high blood pressure is a precursor to a lot of things that have to do with heart disease,” the nutritionist noted.

The World Health Organisation says there is evidence that heating and frying oil at high temperatures leads to an increase in trans fat concentrations.

According to the WHO, trans fat increases the risk of heart disease and death from heart disease by 28 per cent.

“On average, the level of trans fat has been found to increase by 3.67 g/100g after heating, and by 3.57 g/100g after frying.

“Approximately 540,000 deaths each year can be attributed to the intake of industrially produced trans-fatty acids.

“High trans fat intake increases the risk of death from any cause by 34 per cent, coronary heart disease deaths by 28 per cent and coronary heart disease by 21 per cent.

“This is likely due to the effect on lipid levels: trans fat increases LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while lowering HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Trans fat has no known health benefits,” WHO said.





For a long time, Mr Apokwo, a native of Ezeagu community in Enugu, a state in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria, thought that his frequent urination was because he took Agbo – the traditional herbal mixture or concoction believed to contain potent herbs that are capable of treating different ailments.

Like the average Nigerian and their preference for staple food, he continued to indulge in starchy foods.

A few weeks before this revelation to Guardian Life, the attendant at the chemist shop had told him that his bouts of fatigue, weight loss and constant urination were nothing but signs of the twin devils of “typhoid and malaria”, and gave him medications for them. The sharp pain and sudden swelling he had in his flank, leading down into his groin, prompted his wife to take him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure – one of the complications of poorly managed diabetes. 

“Not only is diabetes an ailment with a lot of long-term complications, but it can also actually kill in the short-term if not properly managed,” an endocrinologist in a Nigerian teaching hospital who preferred to be unnamed told Guardian Life. While it is well known that rapid increases in blood sugar over a short time can lead to immediate death, long-term uncontrolled blood sugar levels can lead to blindness, heart and kidney disease as well as diabetic foot disease. 

Globally, diabetes is one of the 10 leading causes of death. According to the International Diabetic Federation (IDF), Nigeria has the highest occurrence of diabetes sufferers and people with impaired fasting glucose in Africa. In 2020, a meta-analysis reported that approximately 5.8% (about 6 million) of adult Nigerians are suffering from diabetes. Like other middle and low-income countries, two-thirds of those with diabetes are undiagnosed.

Diabetes is a lifelong disease in which the body cannot produce enough insulin. In some other cases, it cannot use the insulin it produces. In both instances, this leaves the affected person with an excess amount of sugar or glucose in the body, which is then ferried around in the blood, capable of causing damage to all the tissues and organs of the body. Insulin is the key hormone involved in the storage and controlled release of glucose in the blood. Sugar is transported into the muscles and fat cells with the help of insulin for use as energy. Without insulin, glucose remains in the blood, which over time can cause serious health problems such as heart disease, vision loss and kidney disease. 

Symptoms of diabetes include:

  •         increased thirst and urination
  •         increased hunger
  •         fatigue
  •         blurred vision
  •         numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  •         sores that do not heal
  •         unexplained weight loss

There isn’t a cure for diabetes yet, although there are promising discoveries, none of these have been shown to be of practical use at the moment. What this means is that diabetes is required to be closely controlled and managed. There are medications to help maintain the blood sugar at an appropriate level and there are other options for maintaining a decent blood sugar level, including healthy lifestyle habits like proper dietary intake and exercise.

The development

Diabetes is of two main types, aptly called type 1 and type 2. In addition, diabetes may develop in pregnant women and that is known as gestational diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, what occurs is, the body’s immune cells attack the organ that produces insulin. The reason for this is unknown. This inability to produce enough insulin for its usage leads to high sugar levels in the blood, called diabetes. 

“Due to attacks on the organ responsible for producing insulin, called the pancreas, by soldiers in the body that normally fights infections, called immune cells, not enough insulin is produced for the body’s use”. This means that people with type 1 diabetes often find out very early in life. In contrast, type 2 diabetes tends to develop much later in life and is thought to develop from the body’s resistance to the action of insulin. Simply put, there is enough insulin, but its effectiveness wanes as time progresses, leading to excess sugar, which can be harmful to the body. While type 1 diabetes is typically due to some problems with the internal workings of the body, type 2 diabetes is usually because of lifestyle habits and some risk factors, like obesity, being black or having other illnesses like poorly controlled blood pressure or cholesterol levels. 

A common topic of discourse is the role of carbonated drinks and sugar in the development of diabetes. Large-scale research shows that regular consumption of sugary drinks, including cola, lemonade and energy drinks, raises the risks of obesity, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. For people with an existing risk, it appears the increased intake of sugars increases their risk of developing diabetes. As such, it is recommended that not over 10% of energy each day comes from sugars. This equates to 70g or less of sugar for men and 50g or less for women.

Alternative therapy

Nigerians are no strangers to herbal medicine. In a country where the rural population was put at 48.04% in 2020, the resort to herbal medicine is largely relied upon. More so, while access to standard healthcare has been a plaguing problem across the country, Nigerians are finding alternatives to it.  

Despite the calls to ban the selling of Agbo from the roadside hawkers by the Herbs Sellers Association of Nigeria, Agbo continues to be very popular. A few concerns are surrounding this recommendation. In recent times, there have been rising allegations that medications such as paracetamol have been used to adulterate the mixture to varying extents, for a myriad of reasons. Highlighting the dangers of using this concoction, medical experts expressed that its long-term use can lead to kidney and liver damage because of the toxic levels of medications and the herbal components of the concoctions. 

Regarding diabetes treatment, Agbo is not the only source that Nigerians have opted for. Mrs Shola, a retired nurse, is convinced that bitter leaf is a potent resource in managing blood sugar. Her husband, a diabetic patient, has been managed using bitter leaf for years with great results. What she has done is to add bitter leaf water to his daily routine, requiring him to consume it at specific periods and with few side effects. According to her, bitter leaf is not only effective in the present time but had been used in previous generations across the world to aid in the alleviation of diabetes. To buttress this, a paper in the Medical Journal of Islamic World Academy of Sciences surmises that bitter leaf has properties that not only reduce sugar levels but heal the pancreas.

 The medical consultant who spoke to Guardian Life opines that while it is true that it has some beneficial effects in managing diabetes, the belief that it can solely treat diabetes should be neglected. “We may be right about the use of herbal concoctions, but until universal medical practice conducts some research and says that its use is consistent with the regulation of blood sugar, it should not be recognised as the sole treatment for diabetes,” she says.

Dr Ruth Uzo, a certified nephrology nurse and a deputy director at the Enugu State Teaching Hospital, says that bitter leaf is a brilliant source. “If they drink it in the morning, it prevents it from getting worse. Bitter leaf and Agbo cannot do everything, however. They need to see an endocrine specialist in the hospital. What we are running from is complications of diabetes because it affects the nerves, the organs, and every part of the body. I will also advise such people to use Moringa.”


For people living with diabetes, one of the symptoms is fatigue, a direct/ironic contrast to exercise. Dr Uzo notes it is a necessity. “They can take a walk, perform indoor exercises; lie on the bed, straighten their legs, do pace exercise or brisk walking, just to ensure some form of activity for around 30 minutes per day or 180 minutes over the course of a week. The idea is for them to be fit and retrain their bodies to use sugar effectively.”

Although this may seem tasking, it has been shown to be very helpful in helping curb outrageous increases in blood sugar over time.

The Diet

One of the horrors of living with diabetes is the eventual cause of premature death if caution is thrown to the wind, a fear that caused Mr and Mrs Augusta to change their diet. As a rule, people diagnosed with diabetes should have a higher concentration of protein, vitamins, vegetables and fibre-rich foods compared to starchy foods or carbohydrates, as there is little to no insulin to break it down. It is, however, important to note that avoiding carbohydrates in its entirety or filling up on other food classes may be detrimental. The primary goal with dieting in diabetes is with portion control, which enables one to “use” up the resources available from food before the next meal, to prevent excesses. Exercise is also one of the healthy lifestyles that a diabetic will have to adopt.

“Do you know that most of these starchy foods like garri is not too good for a prediabetic or someone that has already been diagnosed?” she chips in.

Healthy foods

In collaboration with a dietician, Guardian Life wrote about foods that diabetics can eat.  

Here’s a list of healthy local foods which can be enjoyed on a diabetic menu:

  •         Nigerian soups: Vegetable soup, Okra soup, Edikan Ikong, Waterleaf soup, Ogbono soup, Egusi soup, Afang soup
  •         Staple foods (swallow): Wheatmeal fufu, Guinea corn fufu, Unripe plantain fufu
  •         Stews and sauces: Tomato stew, Garden egg stew, Shredded chicken sauce, Shrimp sauce, Fresh Fish sauce or stew, Smoked fish sauce 
  •         Low-carb meals: Brown basmati rice and stew, Unripe plantain porridge, Moi Moi, Boiled plantain with stew, Roasted plantain with fish sauce, Plantain with beans porridge, Beans and whole wheat bread 
  •         Healthy snacks: Garden eggs with peanut butter, Coconuts, Boiled groundnuts, Akara balls, Tiger nuts, Nigerian pear 
  •         Comfort foods: Isi ewu, Nkwobi, Cow leg, Cow tongue, Fish pepper soup, Chicken pepper soup, Snail pepper soup, Peppered snail, Liver sauce, Gizzard pepper soup
  •         Healthy drinks: Zobo without sweeteners, Guinea corn (Dawa) kunu, Millet (joro) kunu, Unsweetened yoghurt



There are an estimated 6.9 million cigarette smokers in the UK[i], despite the dozens of health risks that smoking presents. It’s something that many people pick up as a habit when they are young, and quickly become addicted to it. Although education surrounding the risks of smoking has become much better in recent years, there is still a long way to go in the battle to stop smoking across the population, for good.

The effects of smoking on the body

The typical risk that most people associate with smoking is lung cancer or lung disease. However, the risks of smoking extend to other areas of the body – causing diseases and conditions which are often not reversible.


The risk of cancer is increased by smoking. Some of these cancers include:

  • Bladder Cancer – a third of all bladder cancer cases are caused by smoking. Symptoms of bladder cancer can include frequency or urge incontinence, blood in the urine, and more.
  • Bowel Cancer – 7% of bowel cancer cases in the UK have a link with smoking. Symptoms can include blood in the stool, sudden weight loss, and eventually may lead to bowel incontinence. Read more about the link between bowel cancer and incontinence.
  • Mouth Cancer – Smokers are 10x more likely to develop oral cancers. Symptoms of oral cancers include pain, growths, and sores.
  • Oesophagus Cancer – 35 in 100 cases of oesophagus cancer are caused by smoking. Symptoms of oesophagus cancer can include difficulty swallowing, loss of appetite/weight loss and pain in the stomach, back, or chest.


As well as cancers, the risk of developing different conditions across the body increases when you smoke. Those who smoke are at high risk of heart disease, gum disease, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and more.

What’s in a cigarette?

Cigarettes contain over 60 chemicals

Most of us are aware of the chemicals that go into cigarettes which make them so harmful. But do you know how harmful these chemicals are and which other household products they are used in? For example, Acetone, which is the main ingredient in nail polish remover, is also found in cigarettes! Other chemicals include:

These chemicals are highly damaging. Below, we explain these chemicals further

  • Formaldehyde – embalming fluid. This is not added to cigarettes but is naturally produced when the components of a cigarette (sugars, cellulose fibres, carob, etc.) are lit and burn together.
  • Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel. This forms a major part of cigarette smoke. The chemical converts to formaldehyde in the liver, which can cause disease.
  • Nicotine – is highly addictive and used as an insecticide. Most cigarettes contain around 10 milligrams of the chemical. It causes your brain to associate smoking with pleasure, which causes addiction.
  • Tar – used for laying roads. This chemical is created by burning cigarettes. It is a cancer-causing chemical that forms a sticky layer inside your lungs, leading to potential damage and disease.
  • Ammonia – a household cleaner. Used as a filler for tobacco, ammonia makes it easier for the body to absorb nicotine.
  • Arsenic – used in rat poison. Although not added to cigarettes directly, it is usually a component of pesticides that are used to grow tobacco.
  • Butane – used in lighter fluid. Butane is used to keep the tip of a cigarette burning. It is highly toxic.
  • Cadmium – active component in battery acid. This is another chemical that is used in pesticides which are used when farming tobacco. It causes oxidative damage to molecules within the body.
  • Carbon monoxide – is released when cigarettes are lit and burned. Each cigarette produces 5 – 20.2mg of carbon monoxide. It is a toxic gas that replaces oxygen and can prevent your lungs and heart from working properly.
  • Lead – a harmful compound used in batteries. This is one of many metals that are present in cigarettes. Lead deposits can accumulate in the lungs and build up in your airways.

Have smoking laws been effective?

Over the past couple of decades, laws and legislation have been put in place to reduce the number of smokers in the UK. The data so far shows that these have had varying levels of success, with the number of people smoking having reduced significantly compared to 2011.

Since 2011, the prevalence of smokers has decreased greatly.

The proportion of smokers in the UK has fallen massively since 2011 and is predicted to keep dropping at a steady rate.

2007 – The UK Smoking Ban was rolled out, banning smoking in enclosed public spaces. Smoking age rose to 18

2008 – Cigarette packaging started carrying picture warnings

2011 – Tobacco vending machines banned in the UK

2014 – Legislation changes so picture warnings must cover 65% of cigarette packaging

Packs of less than 20 cigarettes prohibited from sale

2015 – Standardised cigarette packaging was introduced

Smoking in a car with a child present was made illegal

Tips for Quitting Smoking

Smoking is an addiction, and quitting can be very difficult – especially for those who have been smoking for many years. As well as the physical addition to nicotine in the cigarettes, the physical habit of smoking is something which is notoriously hard to break.

Remember that you don’t need to struggle in silence on your journey to quitting smoking……..




The number on your scale is just one of the many indicators for general health. Calculate your BMI (Body Mass Index) to gain more insights on how healthy your weight is for your height. This BMI calculator generates results for women, men, teenagers, and children.

Why We Use BMI

Body Mass Index or BMI can help you understand if you’re a healthy body weight for your height. There’s no “perfect” body weight – and there’s no perfect calculation for a healthy body weight, either – but knowing your BMI can be a useful indicator of whether you’re at risk from weight-related health problems.

It works by calculating a number based on your weight and how tall you are. From this number, you can get an idea of whether you are considered underweight, “normal” weight, overweight, or obese on the BMI scale.

While BMI measurements are imperfect, they’re still widely used for several reasons.

First, BMI is quick and affordable to measure (our tool is completely free) and you can work it out at home with just bathroom scales and a tape measure.

There’s also a strong, proven correlation between BMI and body fat and hundreds of studies that show links between BMI and general health, so it can be a useful place to start to learn more about your body and health.

Understanding BMI Results: Ages 20+

Underweight: Below 18.5

A BMI below 18.5 suggests you could be underweight. There’s a risk that you may not be eating enough, or in some cases, it could be a sign of illness.

Prolonged malnutrition can lead to osteoporosis, fertility issues, anemia, hair and tooth loss, and other problems. A low BMI doesn’t necessarily mean a medical emergency, but you might want to pay a visit to your doctor to understand if there’s an underlying cause.

Normal: 18.5 to 24.9

BMI readings between 18.5 and 24.9 are considered within a healthy range. Those on the lower end of the spectrum may want to make sure they’re getting enough nutrients, while those at the top might take a look at their processed sugar and junk food consumption.

While these numbers are not associated with significantly elevated medical risks, there are other factors to consider. A slim person carrying belly fat may have a “normal” BMI but be at a greater health risk than a fit, muscular person with an “overweight” BMI. Find out more about BMI limitations.

Overweight: 25 to 30

If your BMI is above 25, it could mean that you’re overweight and carrying excess body fat. However, because BMI is a measure of body weight and not body fat, you could also have a high BMI if you’re very muscular.

If you’re not very active, a BMI within this range is a sign you should consider losing weight through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise. For those who are active and lead a healthy lifestyle, a high BMI result may not be a cause for concern.

Obese: Above 30

If your BMI is above 30, you’re almost certainly carrying extra weight. A BMI over 30 has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, joint inflammation, depression, sleep apnea, and an elevated risk of cancer.

These dangers are especially elevated for those with a BMI over 40, which is known as “severely obese”. Obesity can lead to serious health and quality-of-life issues. You should visit your doctor to understand the underlying cause and start taking steps to improve your health.

Understanding BMI Results: Ages 2-19

Severely Underweight: Below the 3rd Percentile

A BMI below the 3rd percentile almost certainly means that a child or teen is severely underweight. A medical professional should be consulted on how to support healthy weight gain, while considering possible underlying causes.

Studies on children and young adults in this percentile show that many suffer from protein-energy malnutrition (PEM), which is linked with higher rates of mortality and further illness.

Underweight: From the 3rd to 5th Percentile

A BMI below the 5th percentile suggests a child or teenager could be underweight . It is possible that they simply have a smaller build, so it’s important to clarify this with a doctor or pediatrician.

If a child or teen is underweight for their build, there’s a risk that they’re not eating enough nutritious foods, or in some cases, it could be a symptom of an underlying illness.

Studies show that under nutrition in kids can lead to metabolic disorders, low energy levels, behavioral issues, and learning disabilities.

Normal: From the 5th to the 85th Percentile

BMI readings between the 5th and 85th percentile are within a healthy range. If a teenager or child is on the lower or higher end of the spectrum, confirm with a medical expert to make sure they’re getting enough nutrition and exercise.

In any case, it’s recommended that a child or teen with a healthy BMI still gets support on how to keep their processed sugar and junk food consumption to a minimum for optimal development.

Continuously tracking BMI, especially during puberty, is a helpful way to make sure a child is on track with their weight.

BMI calculations do have their limitations, so it’s best to receive ongoing guidance from a doctor or pediatrician.

Overweight: From the 85th to 95th Percentile

If a child or teenager’s BMI percentile is above 90, it could mean that they are overweight and carrying excess body fat. However, because BMI is a measure of body weight and not body fat, they could also have a high BMI if they have more muscle.

In the case where this child or teenager is not very active, a BMI above the healthy percentile range for their age and gender means they need support in losing weight through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise. Additional guidance from a pediatrician or doctor is recommended for getting a child or teen’s health on track.

Being overweight in childhood often continues on into adulthood, due to genetics and behavioral patterns. This can be detrimental to an individual’s emotional health, as well as physical, with increased risks of childhood diabetes in the short term. Long-term effects include varying degrees of illness, so it’s ideal for a child or teen with this result to start getting help now.

For those who are active and lead a healthy lifestyle, a high BMI result may not be a cause for concern, but you should confirm this with a medical expert.

Severely Overweight: Above the 95 Percentile

A BMI above the 95th percentile almost certainly indicates that a child or teenager is carrying more weight than what’s considered healthyThe CDC states that unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity, and inconsistent sleeping habits are just some of the factors that contribute to childhood and teenage obesity.

Childhood obesity often leads to obesity in adulthood. An adult BMI over 30 is considered obese, and has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, arthritis, depression, and other serious health and quality-of-life issues.

A child or teen with this result should be assessed by a physician to discover any underlying causes, and clarify what steps to take to improve their health.

How BMI is Calculated

BMI is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. If you use imperial measurements you can calculate BMI with the equation:

(Weight in pounds ÷ height2 in inches) x 703 = BMI

BMI measurements are taken the same way for men and women. But there are differences in the way this information is interpreted.

BMI for Women

Often due to social stigma, women with higher BMIs report more psychological stress and a lower quality of life than men with high BMIs. Those pressures also cause a higher rate of eating disorders among women.

Women can experience fertility issues and amenorrhea if their BMI goes too far in either direction. Note that if you’re pregnant or nursing, BMI isn’t accurate and shouldn’t be used.

BMI is also not an accurate way to determine the distribution of body fat, in particular, identifying high-risk abdominal body fat. Additional waistline measurements are particularly important for women, who tend to have more body fat than men of the same BMI. Studies show there’s a link between larger BMI and waistline measurements and coronary heart disease in women.

Relying on BMI as the sole indicator for overall health should also be avoided after menopause. This is because the proportions of muscle, fat, and bone change as you age. See more about the limitations of BMI for post-menopausal women.

BMI for Men

Currently, the average BMI for males is 28. You might think that the healthy weight for a man of the same height as a woman would be higher. But this isn’t the case.

As BMI increases (over 25), so does ill health. A BMI of 28 makes you more than 1,500% more likely to develop diabetes than if your BMI was 23 or lower.

Fortunately, you’ll benefit from dropping even just a few pounds.

BMI for Children and Teenagers

A slightly different method is used to calculate the BMI of children and teenagers aged 2-19 years old.

BMI is still calculated using height and weight but the results are interpreted and measured by percentile. This is where the child or teen’s BMI is compared to others of the same age and sex using data from national surveys.

The CDC is just one of the organizations that monitors the results of these surveys and maintains updated charts of BMI percentiles for boys and girls.

Limitations of BMI Measurements

Body Fat Distribution

BMI fails to take fat distribution into account. This is an issue because some areas are far more harmful to health than others. Excess abdominal fat has been linked to numerous health issues, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Yet a slim person who carries belly fat might still have a “normal” BMI. You should take your waistline into account, as well as your BMI.

To work out your body fat percentage, ask your health practitioner to do skinfold testing instead.

Athletes and Bodybuilders

BMI is a measurement of body weight, but it can’t differentiate between muscle, fat, or bone mass. Because of this, a bodybuilder with very little body fat but a lot of muscle might still receive a BMI rating of “overweight” or even “obese”, which would be an inaccurate representation of their actual health.

If you consider yourself to be a fit person with a large muscle mass, your BMI won’t be a relevant indicator of your health, so reach out to a medical practitioner for guidance.


Race and ethnicity factor into BMI readings, as well. The ranges and cut-off points in most general tools are considered international guidelines, although there are some significant variations.

A 20-year study found that at the same BMI, Asian people were twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to white people. It found that Black, Hispanic, and other ethnic minority groups were also more at risk of diabetes.

Those of Asian origin are also more prone to belly fat than Caucasians. This means they may start to see health problems at a much lower BMI. The World Health Organisation looked into this and suggested that Asian people should class a BMI of 22-25 as overweight (observed risk) and 26-31 as obese (high risk).


BMI calculations are a less accurate indication of a healthy weight for babies and toddlers aged 0 to 2, and for individuals over the age of 60 to 65.

When it comes to infants aged 0 to 2, there are many more factors that contribute to weight. Medical experts trained in this area take measurements such as height and head circumference, and compare those to growth percentiles of children the same age, gender, and height, but they’ll also base their assessment on far more nuanced information.

This is largely based on information you provide, such as general diet, energy, and overall health before determining whether your baby or toddler is at a healthy weight.

As for the limitations in older adults, muscle mass decreases as you get older, while body fat often increases. This means that some older people may fall into a healthy BMI category, while still having a high level of body fat.

If you’re over the age of 60-65, BMI may be an even more unreliable indicator of body fat.

Pregnant/Breastfeeding Women

Given your baby’s weight, and the natural increase in your body fat to accommodate and nurture your baby, BMI is not an accurate tool for you while pregnant or nursing. Instead, the CDC recommends monitoring your weight gain throughout pregnancy and postpartum.

If you know what your BMI was pre-pregnancy, you can compare your current weight with CDC’s recommended weight gain for that BMI. There are separate charts for pregnancy with one baby and pregnancy with twins.

Post-Menopausal Women

BMI can be particularly misleading for postmenopausal women where studies show bone density decreases and body fat increases.

This is means that the Underweight to Obese categories would have to be shifted down to lower weights in order to more accurately determine whether you’re potentially at risk for weight-related health complications. So, whereas a BMI of 30 is the cut off for obesity, studies show that the cut off should be lower for post-menopausal women.



Sickle cell disease is a genetic blood disorder inherited from one’s parents and characterised by the inheritance of two abnormal genes with one of the abnormal genes being haemoglobin “S.” It’s commoner in blacks’ although it is a global disease. It is said to have originated from Sub-Saharan Africa and #Nigeria still has the highest burden of sickle disease in the world.

#Sicklecelldisease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic diseases worldwide and its highest prevalence occurs in the #MiddleEast, Mediterranean regions, Southeast #Asia, and Sub-Saharan #Africa especially Nigeria.

Although significant progress has been made in the national prioritisation of SCD in a handful of these countries in the region, a larger population is still left behind. That goes even more so for those living in countries that lack equitable access to SCD care and for the vulnerable poor populations who bear the greatest inequities from the disease. They lack access to early diagnostics and care, education, financial and social protection, food security and opportunities to live their lives to the fullest potential.

The degeneration of untreated #SCD can be linked to organ damage. This is either caused by addiction to some pain relief medication (usually caused by self-medication) or untreated SCD. This makes #Nutrition of utmost importance in the management of SCD.

Nutrition is reported to impact many chronic health conditions associated with SCD, including chronic baseline inflammation, and vaso-occlusive crisis (VOC), which is accompanied by frequent pain and greater occurrence of stroke, particularly in young children. Other severe manifestations of SCD are pulmonary hypertension; cardiovascular and renal disease.

It is becoming more apparent that current dietary recommendations for SCD should include more emphasis on adequate amounts of macronutrients. Intervention with macronutrients, (proteins carbohydrates and fats) showed measurable improvement in clinical condition and reduced hospital admissions in growth-delayed children with SCA.

It was reported that adults and children with sickle cell anaemia have a relative energy shortage. In SCD patients, nutrients from the diet and amino acids from body protein catabolism channel towards rapid red cell production, are replacing hemolysed sickle red cells being constantly removed from the circulation. This metabolic irregularity drastically increases the energy requirement and reduces the availability of nutrients for growth and development in children and for maintaining adequate muscle mass in adults. The primary clinical manifestation of this relative nutrient deficiency is severe undernutrition.

Hydration plays an essential role in sickle cell anaemia. It is crucial to promote proper hydration by frequent intake of water and other fluids and to avoid physical activity and extreme weather that result in excessive sweating.

Note this! Avoiding dietary sodium intake can help to maintain appropriate hydration status by preventing water from leaving the erythrocytes (William-Hooker et. al., 2013). Dietary recommendations for maintaining good hydration status include limiting high sodium, processed foods, and snacks while consuming water and fluids throughout the day. (Umeakunne K, 2019).

Emphasis should be on high dietary requirements for macronutrients (protein-carbohydrate and fat). With the use of food sources of polyphenolic phytochemicals, flavanols and gut microbial required prebiotics these components in combination with the vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids routinely use in standard treatment, may provide adjuvant therapy for the SCD-associated chronic disease burden, and promote sustainable health, quality of life and increase longevity for this patient population (Umeakunne K, 2019).

Courtesy; #Dietitian Unit, Rays of Hope Support Initiative


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