The global pandemic has highlighted many fault-lines across society, and in our current state of ongoing disruption, it also presents us with unique opportunities to make changes.  In our daily lives, some of the best changes we can make are around our food choices.  Overweight and obesity have been linked to more severe COVID-19 outcomes, along with diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension and Type 2 diabetes.   If there was ever the time to focus on a healthy diet to maintain a healthy weight and support our immunity, this is surely it! This National Nutrition and Obesity Week (NNOW), a range of South African health organisations have come together to collaborate with the Department of Health to highlight how essential good nutrition is.

The theme for NNOW 2020 (9th to 19th October), ‘Good Nutrition for Good Immunity’ also takes into account how the pandemic has been disrupting food systems, leading to poorer food choices and is compromising food security for families.  In addition to good hygiene practices, one of the best defences against the ongoing threat of COVID-19 is a mostly plant-based diet that consists mainly of unprocessed and minimally processed foods.

CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), Professor Pamela Naidoo agrees, “As a country, we have one of the highest rates of overweight and obesity in the world, a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, which is now known as a serious co-morbidity when it comes to COVID-19. Making poor food choices every day and maintaining an unhealthy weight greatly increases the risks of disease and death.  On the other hand, focusing on consuming fresh vegetables, whole-grains, beans, and lentils daily, as well as regular physical activity, are straightforward ways to achieve healthy weight and protect ourselves and our families.”

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