Friday, January 07, 2011

The Longevity Project: Diet, Quality of Life, and Health

Why is the life expectancy of Ghanaians less than 57 yearsWhat are the links among African cuisines, diets, health, popular cultures, and quality of life? These are all questions that interest me. As a writer, blogger, and editor, I'm particularly interested in ways folks communicate about these topics--topics I believe are sadly neglected by development experts.

Today I'd like to plug a group that impressed me me when I read an article in 2007 in the premier issue of a magazine called Africa Alive! called "A Tale of 2 Parents" about a Ghanaian family in which one parent chose a single simple lifestyle change that led to health and wellness while the other parent's health sadly deteriorated. I'm not sure there was ever another issue of Africa Alive!, but the group behind it, the Ghana-based Longevity Project continues to be a voice that should be heard.  They also have a blog called Longevity Project Weblog that appears to have only 8 posts, the last one being over a year ago, BUT, the posts that are there can well stand by themselves. For example, one reflecting on the irony that none of the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals directly address the issue of non-communicable diseases (NDCs): hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer--diseases the Longevity Project claims affect 28.7% of the population, more than 1 in 4 people. It has another post on the role of starch in the diet. 
The website and blog are nicely designed, but I'm wondering why the site has had so little activity in the past year or two. Can anyone tell me? It seems like something we should all support. And I'd suggest that if the blog allowed comments, that would make it more user-friendly.


The Ghetto Intellectual™ said...

Hi Fran! We met briefly. I'm a friend of Abena.

I have that same copy of Africa Alive. It was given to me by a woman who was somehow involved in its publication. I can see her face and I am pretty sure I could track her down. Sounds like they lost whatever funding they had.

Ghanaians/Africans certainly have health challenges but I have always been doubtful about "life expectancy" numbers and about "expert" studies of African health generally. For example, according to some of these "experts," palm oil consumption is a major health risk. Really? West Africans have been consuming palm oil for centuries (doesn't necessarily prove its healthy but it makes me skeptical).

I also wonder what the "official" estimate of 57 years would be if they control for infant mortality. GI

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