The World Health Organisation has recognised for more than a decade that there is a growing toll of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) or lifestyle diseases in developing countries; and food is a major factor!!! In Nigeria, with civilisation, we began to acquire very fast all the diseases of civilisation including diabetes, hypertension, and some cancers. We therefore have a double burden of disease with infection on one side of the spectrum, and lifestyle diseases on the other side. As an endocrinologist and diabetologist for many years, I discovered that there is a great vacuum in knowledge generally as regards the influences of diet and physical activity on health, and the relationship between overweight/obesity, diabetes, hypertension and other lifestyle diseases. We do not have sufficient structures on ground to cope with the devastating complications of these diseases when they arise, thus prevention is the only realistic way to reverse this epidemic. Research has shown that prevention of frank diabetes is possible by 58% in those at risk. Education remains the key that can be used to influence the quality of life of persons or even make the difference between life and death. The World Diabetes Foundation (WDF) is an international organisation dedicated to creating awareness, prevention and care for people with diabetes in developing countries, where 80% of the world’s explosion in diabetes is expected to occur. Mark Anumah Medical Mission (MAMM) is an NGO of which I am the chairperson. Our mission is to be a passionate voice for behaviour change, so we can reduce the burden of lifestyle diseases and help Nigerians lead safer, healthier and longer lives. MAMM therefore in collaboration with WDF carried out a project on lifestyle disease prevention in secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja. Our findings were quite worrisome: 50.1% of the teachers were found to be hypertensive, the highest blood pressure recorded was 240/120mmHg in an individual actively at work; and 45.9% of them had risk factors for diabetes. Among the students, some had a body mass index (BMI) between 30 and 40kg/m2 , while 11.4% were hypertensive and 13.8% were on their way to developing diabetes. These young people (children) are heading for big trouble in the near future if nothing is done. This very scary scenario and the passion I have to empower people to change behaviour in order to live healthier lives made it imperative to write this book as an attempt to bridge the gap in knowledge. The book is a useful tool for clinicians, health care providers; persons suffering from diabetes and hypertension, and the public, as it focuses on how nutrition and physical activity can make or unmake us as far as lifestyle diseases are concerned.
It is my hope that you will find this book informative and rewarding. Felicia O. Anumah MBBS, MWACP, FMCP, FACE Professor of Medicine, Endocrinology and Diabetology Department of Medicine, College of Health Sciences, University of Abuja 20/10/2015