In 2011, Lambaréné Fellows Laura M. Blinkhorn and Mascha A. Davis met a young woman at The Albert Schweitzer Hospital. Just 26-years old, she was suffering from blinding headaches and a burning pain in her chest. It turns out that Marie, an otherwise energetic and ambitious entrepreneur (she ran a busy food stall selling beignets), was suffering from high blood pressure, gastric reflux, and high blood sugar. She was also significantly overweight.

In a “Narrative Matters” column for the public health policy journal Health Affairs, Blinkhorn and Davis, recount their attempts to work with Marie about nutrition, and their reaction to Marie’s condition:

[I]t was strange to see a morbidly obese young woman being treated in the same hospital where one of us was also developing a protocol for the nutritional needs of undernourished children. The world’s rapidly changing caloric and nutritional imbalance – evident in the fact that the number of obese people worldwide is now estimated to exceed the number with malnutrition – was brought vividly home to us.

Health Affairs has made the full article, “Tackling the Weight of the World: What One African Woman Taught Us About Global Obesity,” available online. You can read it here.