World Obesity Day (WOD), driven by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) is a global campaign, observed annually on the 4th of March, to raise awareness around various health factors contributing to obesity.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), a member of the WOF is working together with the South African Non-Communicable Disease Alliance (SANCDA), the National Department of Health (NDOH), and other organizations around the world to spread the WOD 2021 message “Every Body Needs Everybody. This is a way of emphasizing that obesity is not only a lifestyle condition but can be observed as a complex disease that increases the risks of other health problems and diseases, such as heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, skeletal problems, sleep apnea, COVID-19, reproductive problems, and certain cancers.

Obesity is defined as an abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat in the body, that can have adverse effects on health as it affects adults and children equally. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) obesity report of April 2020, the global prevalence of obesity is 1.9 billion people overweight, 800 million people obese, and 340 million children obese. In the South African context, there are an estimate of 31% men, 68% women, and 13% children classified as overweight or obese (according to Statistics SA, 2020).

Professor Pamela Naidoo, CEO of HSFSA adds “Understanding your environment and the causes of obesity can help us adapt and make behavioural changes despite the challenges that we face. We encourage people to seek out opportunities to live healthier, increase activity levels and eat better. We will continue to work towards a healthier environment for all South Africans. “Knowing that obesity is not entirely your fault’ can be empowering.”

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