Just over 30% of the world’s population is obese, which equates to approximately 2.1-billion people. New statistics published by Discovery Vitality, however, reveal that South Africa is fairing the worst in the global battle against obesity.

“The big picture is worse in South Africa. Nearly 70% of South African women and 31% of South African men are overweight or obese,” Dr Craig Nossel said to BusinessTech. Nossel is the Head of Wellness at Vitality.

“And worryingly, 13% of South African children are overweight, which is twice the global average,” he added.

A lack of physical activity is responsible for 9% of premature deaths across the world, and unhealthy diets cause more deaths than any other risk in the world. Approximately 50% of South Africans are physically inactive, as compared to 31% of adults worldwide.

An improvement in diet could prevent one in five deaths.

“We are eating the wrong types of food. In high-income countries, 50% of the kilojoule intake comes from ultra-processed foods and drinks. South Africans are eating twice the amount of sugar recommended (6 to 12 tsp a day)” Nossel said. “South Africans are also spending R41-billion on fast food per year, and 82% of teenagers are eating fast food at least once a week.”

According to Nossel, many global studies have shown that a healthy diet can reduce the risk of various diseases, including cancer.

“Numerous studies show, for example, that cutting down on processed meats reduces cancer risk,” he said. “The benefits of including more plant foods for heart health and reducing the risk of diabetes, are also well supported.”

Picture: Pixabay

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