WHO: Hello Africa, tell me how you doing

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a new report on the current nutrition situation in Africa. The report is called Nutrition in the WHO African Region (November 2017). You can currently see WHO's summary here. And you can download the entire report as a PDF here.

Essential quotes from the report:
"Africa’s health depends on improved nutrition" - great someone says it out loud. They mean Africa's human population's health, of course.

WHO's nutrition recommendations for Africa:
"Dietary recommendations include the following:

  • achieve energy balance and a healthy weight [Translation: Eat enough fibre - translation: Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts and seeds.]
  • limit energy intake from total fats [Translation: Eat less added oil - if you eat a lot - and eat less meat, whole eggs, and full fat dairy] and shift fat consumption away from saturated fats [Translation: Eat less meat, whole egg, and full fat dairy] to unsaturated fats [Translation: Eat more nuts and seeds, and imagine they might recommend fish - which I don't, if you have alternatives] and towards the elimination of trans-fatty acids [Translation: Eat less fried and deep fried foods and hydrogenated fats added to processed foods.]
  • increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, and legumes, whole grains and nuts
  • limit the intake of free sugars [Translation: Don't add sugar. Avoid sugar sweetened beverages like Coca Cola - something the WHO cannot say out loud.]
  • limit salt (sodium) consumption from all sources and ensure that salt is iodized. [Translation: If you add salt to your food, make sure it is iodized salt. The package of the salt should state how much iodine it contains. It's best to buy from big well-known brands. If you eat very little added salt, make sure you obtain iodine from somewhere else - and this might be tricky in resource poor areas. Fish from the sea is a source of iodine - I don't recommend this for ethical reasons, if you have any other alternative to obtain iodine. Seaweed is another source of iodine. In some areas well-water can contain iodine. Iodine supplements are a reliable source of iodine. Getting enough iodine is extremely important for pregnant or breastfeeding women and for young children.]
If you eat very few or no animal products at all (meat, fish, eggs, dairy), then it is highly recommended that you take a vitamin B12 supplement or consume vitamin B12 fortified foods. If you have no access to this - ask for help! This is very important for your long-term health.
For more recommendations on diets that are free or almost free from foods of animal origin, see my recommendations here.

In figure 1 of the report you can see the prevalence of stunting in young children African countries. Translation: This means what percentage of children up to 5 years old are too small (low body height) for their age. From scientific studies it is know how healthy children should grow, that means how tall (within a certain range) they should be at a certain age.

In figure 7 of the report you can see the prevalence of wasting in young children African countries. Translation: This means what percentage of children up to 5 years old are to "thin" ("skinny") for their body height. These children look very thin because they suffer from undernutrition.

Also check this global "life expectancy map" by the Lancet, and see how badly many African countries are doing in this respect.