South Africa presently ranks amongst the world’s top 20 fattest countries, and SA is the fattest country in sub-Saharan Africa!

Seven out of every ten women in SA are overweight (BMI above 25), with four of these seven being obese, implying their BMI is over 30 (BMI = Weight in kgs/ (Height in metres)2

Three out of every ten South African men are overweight or obese.

This trend is becoming common in children too. One in four girls and one in five boys between the ages of 2 and 14 are overweight or obese.

Obesity is associated with diseases like type 2 diabetes, stroke and cancer.  In 2012 heart disease and diabetes each killed more South Africans than HIV, with diseases related to high blood pressure not far behind.

Fast foods, junk foods, confectionary and sweetened beverages are popular with the youth and consumed regularly, while less than two-thirds of children in SA exercise weekly.  This lack of physical activity will likely continue into their adulthood.

Research has shown that South Africans eat excessive amounts of salt, sugar, refined grains and unhealthy fats, but generally skimp on vegetables, fruit, wholegrain and dairy.  The general move away from traditional diets to more western diets, which are filled with processed foods, are a major driver for the poor diets of both adults and children.

A further most alarming statistic is that half of men and about two thirds of females in SA are physically inactive.

South Africans need to lose weight and get moving!


SA Medical Research Council (MRC)
Heart and Stroke Foundation, SA (HSF)
Statistics SA
SA Demographic and Health Survey
SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

MARCH 2017

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