Changing society a big challenge
FATTEST city in the country – that’s Port Elizabeth, according to health and insurance company Discovery, which has released an updated obesity index based on client data.
Sadly, since the last survey three years ago, not much has changed.
People in Port Elizabeth have shown marginal progress losing weight, which offers some hope, but we still rank bottom of the fatty class, one that includes Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and Bloemfontein.
Two things stand out: our diets are generally poor and we lead inactive lifestyles for the most part.
Both factors are combining in a deadly way. Earlier this year, StatsSA revealed that diabetes was the leading cause of natural deaths in Nelson Mandela Bay metro, replacing tuberculosis.
The same causal factors – saturated, processed foods and poor exercise – were cited in that survey.
“These findings validate our view that lifestyle disease is one of the biggest societal challenges facing South Africa,” said Discovery Vitality Wellness head Dr Craig Nossel at the time.
His comments this week were no less concerning.
“It means that more people are now at increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and premature death.”
All of which increase the burden of cost on our healthcare system.
An alarming outlook, indeed, one which is somewhat at odds with the perception that our geography and climate are natural inducements to eating well and exercising regularly.
Economics may well have affected the choices of cash-strapped consumers as they turned to cheaper convenience foods, typically higher in sugar and salt.
Food prices have only recently started falling, thanks to drought-busting rainfall and improved inflationary prospects.
August Consumer Price Index figures show a 3.6% drop in the price of vegetables since January, fruit by 8.4%.
These declines should help change our buying habits, but ultimately the choice to lead a healthy lifestyle is an individual one.
Changing society is the far greater challenge.