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Global Health: Older, Fatter Brazil Battles Rising Blood Pressure

Rates of high blood pressure are particularly high for the growing numbers of older Brazilians. More than half of those over 55 suffer from the condition, also referred to as 'hypertension.' Among the causes is the high amounts of salt i

Growing older in Curitiba, Brazil (Adam Jones)
Growing older in Curitiba, Brazil (Adam Jones)

BRASILIA More than half of Brazilians over 55 suffer from high blood pressure, according to a major new national health survey."This data shows how high blood pressure has become a main health issue in this new Brazil, which has more elderly and obese people than before," says Brazil's Minister of Health Alexandre Padilha.

High blood pressure, also referred to as "hypertension," leads to a greater risk of heart attack, kidney problems and stroke, main causes of death in Brazil.

High blood pressure is a problem for 5.4% of 18-to-24-year-old population, 50.5% of 55 to 64 years old and 59.7% of over 65 year old. Among all ages, 22.7% have high blood pressure, slightly below the 2010 rate of 23.3%.

Women in all age groups have more problems of high blood pressure. Less-educated people are also more likely to suffer from the condition, with some 35% of women who went to school for fewer than eight years with high blood pressure – more than twice (14.2%) of those with 12 years or more of education.

The Ministery of Health has launched several initiatives to lower the high blood pressure rates among the population, including an agreement with food companies to reduce the amount of sodium in their products. "By 2014, we want less than 4,000 tons of sodium in industrialized goods," says Padilha.

According to Luiz Bortolotto, a cardiologist at the Heart Institute of Sao Paulo, even those being treated for hypertension treatment consume excessive amounts of salt in their daily meals. Bread and ready-made seasoning are the main sources of sodium in the current Brazilian diet.

Bortolotto's advice for reducing the daily consuption of salt? Read your labels.

Read more from Folha de S. Paulo

Photo - Adam Jones

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Economy

In Uganda, Having A "Rolex" Is About Not Going Hungry

Experts fear the higher food prices resulting from the conflict in Ukraine could jeopardize the health of many Ugandans. Take a look at this ritzy-named simple dish.

Zziwa Fred, a street vendor who runs two fast-food businesses in central Uganda, rolls a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex.

Nakisanze Segawa

WAKISO — Godfrey Kizito takes a break from his busy shoe repair shop every day so he can enjoy his favorite snack, a vegetable and egg omelet rolled in a freshly prepared chapati known as a Rolex. But for the past few weeks, this daily ritual has given him neither the satisfaction nor the sustenance he is used to consuming. Kizito says this much-needed staple has shrunk in size.

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Most streets and markets in Uganda have at least one vendor firing up a hot plate ready to cook the Rolex, short for rolled eggs — which usually comes with tomatoes, cabbage and onion and is priced anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 Ugandan shillings (28 to 57 cents). Street vendor Farouk Kiyaga says many of his customers share Kizito’s disappointment over the dwindling size of Uganda’s most popular street food, but Kiyaga is struggling with the rising cost of wheat and cooking oil.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted exports out of the two countries, which account for about 26% of wheat exports globally and about 80% of the world’s exports of sunflower oil, pushing prices to an all-time high, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, a United Nations agency. Not only oil and wheat are affected. Prices of the most consumed foods worldwide, such as meat, grains and dairy products, hit their highest levels ever in March, making a nutritious meal even harder to buy for those who already struggle to feed themselves and their families. The U.N. organization warns the conflict could lead to as many as 13.1 million more people going hungry between 2022 and 2026.

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