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How the salt shaker is hurting Kenyan men :: Kenya



Are you one of those Kenyans who liberally sprinkle salt on their already salted food?

Well, a new report is now blaming the salt shaker for high salt intake among nearly a quarter of citizens.

Njugu karanga or groundnuts have also come under scrutiny after the study showed they are among the most highly salted packaged food locally.

These are the findings of one of 11 studies published on November 7, in the international journal BMC Public Health, through the Health ministry.

The studies track how Kenyans are responding to the various factors contributing to increasing lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes, respiratory and heart conditions by assessing the consumption of alcohol, sugar, salt, fruits and vegetables among 4,484 participants.

Men, it emerged, are the highest consumers of added salt and report more incidents of high blood pressure and other heart problems.

Younger men aged 18-29, employed, urban and with higher education are the most likely to add salt to their already salted food.

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Meat-eating culture

“This group is the main driver of the now popular nyama-eating culture, also associated with heavy salting,” said Sally Karengi, a consultant nutritionist in Nairobi.

The study reported dangerous alcohol, tobacco, salt and sugar consumption trends. It also recorded poor vegetable and fruit intake and irregular physical activity among the majority of Kenyans.

Besides groundnuts, other salty foods like snacks and canned foods like pickles were heavily favoured by students.

A third of men aged between 18 and 29 reported adding sugar to their already sweetened beverages compared to about a quarter of the women of the same age.

However, women aged 19 to 29 reported consuming more processed foods high in sugar than any other group.

High dietary sugar intake, the authors warn, is associated with health hazards such as insulin resistance that leads to type 2 diabetes. Other complications included hypertension, obesity and heart diseases.

The study says while almost 90 per cent of the respondents knew the health dangers of too much salt and sugar consumption, only about half said they would reduce their daily intake.

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