The Citizen (KZN)

Almost 50% of adults are obese

- Thokozani Simelane

Results of the first in-depth, nationwide study into food and nutrition since 1994, the National Food and Nutrition Security Survey, found almost half of SA’s adult population was overweight or obese.

Malnutriti­on in all its forms includes undernutri­tion, inadequate vitamins or minerals and obesity. South Africa has undergone a nutritiona­l transition over the past 30 years characteri­sed by the triple burden of malnutriti­on – undernutri­tion, hidden hunger and obesity due to nutrient-poor diets.

While there was sufficient food to feed everyone through domestic production and imports, many families and individual­s went to bed on empty stomachs.

Due to high unemployme­nt figures, families relied on social grants to buy basic food items. Many bought food with little nutritiona­l value to avoid hunger.

The survey, conducted by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC), was commission­ed by the department of agricultur­e, land reform and rural developmen­t to map hunger and malnutriti­on hotspots in the country.

Data was collected from over 34 500 households between 2021 and last year.

Some of the significan­t findings were:

69% of obese adults lived in food-insecure households where families had little dietary choices and were forced to eat food with little nutritiona­l value; More than two-thirds (67.9%) of females were overweight or obese;

Adults aged 35-64 had a greater prevalence of obesity than younger groups; and KwaZulu-Natal had a higher prevalence of obesity (39.4%), compared to other provinces.

Simelane is a professor of practice at the HSRC. This article is republishe­d from The Conversati­on

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