Blog - Engage Africa Foundation

Home / Blog / South Africa- The third fattest nation in the world

South Africa- The third fattest nation in the world

South Africa- The third fattest nation in the world[1]

The rate of obesity in South Africa is staggering. Seven out of ten women and four out of ten men are in danger of being classified as obese. [2] Even those that are not obese still run a huge risk of developing Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs). If you compare this with other African countries, namely Namibia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, South Africa has a disproportionately higher percentage of overweight or obese people. The high numbers also follow into children and adolescence.

So why are these numbers?

Studies have shown that one of the main reasons for this high number is westernisation and urbanisation. It has led to people being less active and consume more fast food. In addition to this, the breakdown of family values have also been blamed. [3] Families not sitting down to eat meals together and therefore more people opting for convenient and cheap fast food is at the core of this argument. Adding to this, poverty has also been blamed. According to a report published by Statistics South Africa in February 2015, 27 million of the population live below the poverty line. [4] Due to this, more and more people are steering toward unhealthy but cheap diets. Other factors that have been blamed have included hormone disruptors in the water supply which may be linked to obesity. Combine these factors with the lack of education and nutritional information given to the general population, this becomes a recipe for disaster.

How are obesity and Non Communicable Diseases linked?

Research has shown that being overweight or obese can be one of the root causes for NCDs such as diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer. However obesity is a key modifiable risk factor, meaning by preventing obesity, we can also decrease the risk of developing NCDs. [5]

Combating Obesity

South Africa’s response to combating obesity has fallen disappointingly short. Recently the government developed a national Food and Nutrition Security Policy which has been criticised as failing to providing a ‘credible vision for a nourishing food system for all’.[6] Since then, following calls for a consultation on policies and an implementation plan of the policy have been made. The sad truth is that without a realistic implementation plan, any policies that are made are set up for failure. What is needed is public input from those directly affected from these issues. Not only that, public knowledge and education on nutrition are also required. These issues are the direct result of globalization. However globalization could also hold the solution. Unlimited information and opinions are available on the internet for anyone to explore such as Engage Africa Foundation's Health Education Series. The more people have access to this, it becomes easier for information to spread. In the western world, it is common sense now that fast food consumption leads to obesity and the dangerous consequences of obesity are easy for anyone to find. If South Africa follows the trends of globalization, the truths about obesity and its causes may lie just a click away.

 

Koshiki is a Health and Human Rights Advocate for Engage Africa Foundation. She holds her Masters in Peace Operations, Humanitarian Law and Conflict from the National University of Ireland, Galway. She currently resides in Vancouver, Canada 

 

To donate to our health promotion, research and advocacy efforts to stop the growing epidemic of chronic diseases on the African continent, click here .

- See more at: http://www.engageafricafoundation.org/blog/view/hitting-home-series-bassey-ikpi-on-mental-health-advocacy-and-the-need-for-no-shame#sthash.fJKEjoeZ.dpuf

 

To donate to our health promotion, research and advocacy efforts to stop the growing epidemic of chronic diseases on the African continent, click here .
 

 

To donate to our health promotion, research and advocacy efforts to stop the growing epidemic of chronic diseases on the African continent, click here .

- See more at: http://www.engageafricafoundation.org/blog/view/hitting-home-series-bassey-ikpi-on-mental-health-advocacy-and-the-need-for-no-shame#sthash.fJKEjoeZ.dpuf

 

To donate to our health promotion, research and advocacy efforts to stop the growing epidemic of chronic diseases on the African continent, click here .

- See more at: http://www.engageafricafoundation.org/blog/view/hitting-home-series-bassey-ikpi-on-mental-health-advocacy-and-the-need-for-no-shame#sthash.fJKEjoeZ.dpuf

 

 



[1] According to a health survey conducted by pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline 2001

[2] “SA’s the fattest sub-Saharan African nation-study’ Mia Malan http://mg.co.za/article/2014-05-29-00-sa-has-the-fattest-sub-saharan-african-nation-study

[3] http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Weight-loss/Obesity-in-SA-where-will-it-end-20130212

[4] Methodological report on rebasing of national poverty lines and development of pilot provincial poverty lines, Statistics South Africa, 2015.

[5] “High Rates of Obesity and Non-Communicable Diseases Predicted across Latin America” Noel Christopher Barengo http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3418261/

[6] ‘South Africa’s Fight for the Right for Food’ http://www.health24.com/Diet-and-nutrition/Food-security/The-fight-for-the-right-for-food-20150316

 

Mission

Our mission is to create narratives and inspire action that can put health and wellbeing at the center of Africa's development.

  Sponsored Links
  Contact Us
  Engage Africa Foundation

info@engageafricafoundation.org
Business Hours: 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM