In South Africa, 15-19 October is National Obesity Week. This means we as a nation need to put the dangers of obesity in the spotlight.
Did you know? South Africa now has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa – up to 70% of women and a third of men are classified as overweight or obese. Of this figure, a whopping 40% of women are obese. What this means is they have a body mass index greater than 30 kg/m2.
Obesity causes serious diseases
Obesity is life-threatening and can be the cause of these dreaded diseases:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Joint pain
And here’s something we might not have considered about obesity – it is expensive. Never mind the fact that being overweight increases your insurance premiums, how about how much money gets spent on consuming great amounts of food?
Lifestyle is to blame
CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Dr Vash Mungal-Singh says our lifestyles are largely to blame and that South Africans eat too much, drink too much alcohol, and are too inactive.
Here are some of the reasons why obesity is rampant in South Africa:
- Increased urbanisation – When people move into the city they tend to eat a diet which is high in unhealthy fats, sugar and salt.
- Greater disposable income – People spend more money eating out at restaurants.
- Fast-paced lifestyle – Fast foods and convenience foods are easily and quickly consumed while people are on the move.
- Increased inactivity – South Africans are becoming lazy; the problem starts in childhood and continues into adulthood.
The first sign of obesity is carrying too much weight around your waist. Another clear indicator is your body mass index (learn more here). Then any of these factors below can place you in in an extremely high risk category:
- If you are a smoker
- There is a family history of premature heart disease
- You have high blood pressure (hypertension)
- You have high LDL-cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol)
- You have low HDL-cholesterol (“good” cholesterol)
- There is high blood glucose (sugar)
- There are high triglycerides
- You are not physically active
Obesity can easily be treated
Many South Africans perceive their extra kilos as a sign of abundance, something to be proud of. But while being overweight might be good for your reputation, it isn’t good for your life. In fact, it is dangerous and can shorten your lifespan and cause serious health problems. How many elderly people do you know who are suffering from high blood pressure, joint pain or diabetes? In most cases such health problems can easily be solved with weight loss and healthy eating.
Here’s the thing, obesity is treatable and once you get to a healthy weight, you will lessen the risk of illnesses related to obesity.
Three steps that will get you to your healthy life:
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