Numbers Don’t Lie – Get Yours Under Control

Thu, 29 Dec 2011 Source: Essel, Kojo Cobba

In a country where access to cellular phones far exceeds that of flush toilets, it is surprising to know that alarm bells ring as soon as there is a hint that donors will not be doling out cash for AIDS/HIV programmes. I wonder the thoughts that go through the minds of our donors when they see our extravagant lifestyles. Lifestyles that eventually lead us into the shadow of darkness and disease. The list of diseases grows longer each day; diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity and several others.

With about 10 million unique cell phone subscribers in our dear country can you imagine how much we all spend on phone calls in a month? The cell phone is without doubt an extremely powerful (both in a positive and negative way) device and maybe just maybe it should be central in our fight to bring to the fore that “early intervention in our current life styles could save both damaged lives and substantial funding.” These days I keep getting nightmares where mother Ghana waits till the rupture is almost here only to realize that Diabetes, High blood pressure, High cholesterol, Obesity, Chronic fatigue syndrome and Depression have reached epidemic proportions (I thought we already exceeded that) before we run to our “donors” with cup in hand to ……..but alas they were too busy seeking their salvation to help.

Since this is our last interaction before the curtain is drawn on 2011, I think it will be a great idea to look at some numbers. We have discussed all these in the course of the year and this should serve as a reminder and a time to pledge to take control of our numbers come 1/1/12.


The mother of many diseases. It predisposes us to diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, osteoarthritis and a host of others. Research shows that there is a “healthy weight range” for every height. It is important that you are as close to this as possible. If you breathe hard like a fish out of water after climbing a few flights of stairs, your knees hurt after walking less than half a mile, or routine tasks tire you, your body is telling you that it is too heavy. Talk to a health professional to help you determine your BMI and probably skin fold thickness. These are your magic numbers for obesity control.

Just as suddenly as Ghana attained a middle income status, so did our life expectance jump to an exciting 66years. There is so much more that we can do to improve on this. Dear friend lets watch our weight lest we lose out on this gift of life after retirement.


Hopefully most readers of this column know that the only way to determine if your blood pressure is high is TO MEASURE IT. This silent killer will destroy your organs and offer you as a sacrificial lamb often times with no warning. The magic number here is 120/80 mmHg. Beyond 140/90mmHg, you have high blood pressure. In between these two targets you are being warned. So let us try to keep our blood pressure as close to 120/80mmHg as possible.


It is important to understand that you could feel perfectly well but your blood sugar will be totally out of whack. You may also urinate very frequently and have a host of other symptoms but be totally free of diabetes. You will have to check your blood sugar to know where you stand. Below 6.1mmol/l when you have fasted for about 12 hours is great and above 7mmol/l you may be walking in dangerous territory.


I will not give any figures for this hero turned villain because there are so many conditions that will change the outlook markedly. Being diabetic or hypertensive or having both conditions will change your target values. Get another fasting sample to have your blood lipids checked.


In the “good old days” the teaching was to exercise at least 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. Can anyone tell me what was so good about the old days? How many of us will like to “go and live in the past?” You had better appreciate these times because very soon they will be referred to as the “good old days.” I sometimes get the urge that the world has never seen better times as now. Wars? They have always been there and were probably very savage in the olden days. Famine? Your guess is as good as mine; Joseph rode on the back of this to become prime minister. Yes we certainly hear a lot about these negatives but remember telecommunication has reached unprecedented levels and also the good bible tells us that such negatives will abound as the end draws closer. Well, in these “great new days” the jury is out and the verdict: exercise at least 150 minutes each week. This works out to exercising at least 30 minutes a day at least 5 days each week. Those are your winning numbers for exercising. Well here’s one for the good old days, they got to exercise a whole hour less each week compared to us. So if you are a river bird sitting all day long on hook over grass, then it is time to get moving.


“Drink deep or taste not the waters of the pierian spring where shallow waters intoxicate the brain and drinking deep makes the mind sober again” thankfully our consumption of water does not follow this pattern. By a rough approximation, 2 litres of water should do you a world of good. Minor variations may occur depending on your circumstances. If you work in the sun all day or you are ill and running a fever, you may need more than that amount.

At least 3 balanced meals a day is what the doctor prescribed. Never skip breakfast even if you have a gun held to your head. You know I am kidding right? In some circumstances you may need at least 4 or 5 meals a day. The aim may be to fuel your body every 3-4 hours of your “wakeful” life for optimal performance.

It is my prayer that we will all strive to spend some quality time with God at least ONCE a day. If 31st December finds you alive, spend the crossover to 2012 the right way; in the presence of God almighty. I hope to meet you in church at least once a week.


Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel

Moms’ Health Club


1. The 50 million pound challenge – Dr Ian Smith

2. The Ten Commandments for a Healthy and Enjoyable life – Dr Kojo Essel

3. Financial Times – August 2010.

Columnist: Essel, Kojo Cobba