A landmark survey has revealed that almost half of South Africans over the age of 15 are overweight or obese.
These statistics on obesity are becoming increasingly comparable with those of the United States, where 61 percent of the population is obese or overweight.
South Africa's first national demographic and health survey indicated that 25 percent of its citizens fell into the overweight category, with a Body Mass Index in excess of 25, while 20 percent fell into the obese category, with a BMI of more than 30.
At 30 percent, black women have the highest incidence of obesity, followed closely by white women at 26,3 percent, coloured women at 25,3 percent and Indian women at 21 percent.
White South African men scored the highest on the obesity scale at 19,8 percent, while coloured men followed at 10 percent. Black men and Indian men scored nine percent and 8,6 percent respectively.
Dr Tessa van der Merwe, senior consultant physician endocrinologist at the Johannesburg General Hospital and Wits University, said that because of the results of the survey, the government might be forced to formalise a policy and draw up guidelines on obesity management.
Interestingly, primary healthcare in SA has traditionally been focused on under-nourished children. But this survey suggests that 10 percent of children under the age of two, and 20 percent of children under the age of six, are overweight, she said.
Source: The Mercury, 3 December 2010