Obesity affects more than just body shape. It’s a disease in its own right, and one that is on the rise in South Africa.
“Obesity is one of the most prevalent chronic disorders in sub‐Saharan Africa,” reads a recent study from the University of Pretoria.
Yet despite the risks, nobody seems to be doing anything about it.
“The problem is largely under‐recognised and undertreated in the region,” reads the study.
With South Africans facing rising obesity rates, it’s time we started to pay attention to the threat this condition poses to our country’s future.
Obesity is a global epidemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified obesity as a global epidemic.
“Globally, the prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975,” reads the WHO website.
In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, of which 650 million were obese.
“39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese,” reads the WHO website.
“Most of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.”
Obesity is a major problem in South Africa.
South Africa is no exception to this global trend.
“The prevalence of obesity in South Africa is among the highest in the world and is predicted to increase,” reads the University of Pretoria study.
The study found that the prevalence of obesity in South Africa is 28.3% for men and 38.6% for women.
This means that more than one in four men and more than one in three women in South Africa are obese.
The study also found that the prevalence of obesity is highest in the Western Cape (32.5%) and lowest in the Eastern Cape (23.1%).
Obesity is a major problem in South Africa, and it is getting worse.
The University of Pretoria study found that the prevalence of obesity in South Africa has increased by 5% since 1998.
This trend is set to continue, with the study predicting that the prevalence of obesity will increase to 35.5% in 2025.
Obesity has serious health consequences.
Obesity is more than just a few extra kilos. It’s a serious health condition with a range of serious health consequences.
“Obesity is associated with an increased risk of a number of chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, certain types of cancer, and arthritis,” reads the University of Pretoria study.
Obesity also increases the risk of premature death.
“It is estimated that every year, at least 2.8 million adults die as a result of being overweight or obese,” reads the WHO website.
Obesity costs South Africa billions.
The health consequences of obesity come at a cost. A very high cost.
“The total cost of obesity in South Africa is estimated to be R29.5 billion per year,” reads the University of Pretoria study.
To put this into perspective, this is more than the annual budget of the Department of Social Development (R28.9 billion) and the Department of Home Affairs (R27.6 billion).
So, what can be done?
The University of Pretoria study makes a number of recommendations on how to tackle the obesity epidemic in South Africa.