Ogweno Stephen was born with childhood obesity, but with the support of people around him who recognised obesity as a disease, he was able to manage his condition. He now leads Stowelink, a grassroots organisation that educates communities in Kenya about obesity, stigma, and how to live healthier lives.
Here is his story:
Hi, my name is Ogweno Stephen and I come from Nairobi, Kenya. I was born with childhood obesity, and if statistics are anything to go by, by the time I was 18 I was supposed to be living with full-blown obesity. By the time I was 25 I was supposed to have developed hypertension and by the time I was 35 I probably would have developed diabetes resulting from obesity.
But this was not the case because early on in my life I had people close to me who understood that obesity was a disease and as a result they helped me manage my condition and nudged me back to health. Now I realise that this is a privilege that I had that not a lot of people – especially in sub-Saharan Africa – have when it comes to obesity.
And so, I developed an organisation called Stowelink and from 2016 we have been working on educating communities on what obesity is, what are the myths and misconceptions surrounding obesity, and more importantly what can you do to be healthy and to reduce stigma on obesity? This action is the grassroots level action, but we realise that action on obesity is multifaceted and it needs everybody.
That is why we are constantly engaging with global organisations like the World Obesity Federation to be able to suggest policy actions and to be able to suggest implementation plans that would be able to better the policy environment and ecosystem when it comes to obesity.
Now World Obesity Day is a very important day for us because as people living with obesity this is the day that we get to celebrate the actions of people around the world on obesity. We also get to celebrate the progress that has been made locally and globally as it concerns obesity. But more importantly, we get to set the next steps in the action and the fight against obesity.
And that is why I’m urging everybody that when it comes to obesity, everybody needs to act. That is the theme for 2022 and I hope that you from your seat, you from at home, you from your workplace, take action in reducing obesity, and in talking about obesity. Because everybody needs everybody. Thank you.
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