Are you eating enough?

The Rainbow Nation Health Monitor study, held to determine attitudes towards nutrition, health and wellness, weight profile and levels of risk for cardiovascular disease, found that almost a third of people surveyed often eat less than required.

And this affects their intake of nutritious foods, with 55 percent saying it is more important that food is filling than healthy. Some 47 percent of people claim they cannot afford to eat the correct kinds of foods and 71 percent feel that healthy foods are more expensive. However, 78 percent claim they are more productive when eating healthier foods.

Scientists suggest that foods full of fat, sugar and salt change the way genes work and even swapping them for fish, fruit and vegetables cannot turn back the clock. Credit: REUTERS

Despite a less than perfect attitude to nutrition, health and wellness, 91 percent of South Africans feel alive and energetic – even though 58 percent get very little, or no, exercise. Further, 39 percent admit they do not eat enough vegetables and fruit and, overall, South Africans eat less than half the recommended daily amounts of vegetables and fruit.

The study, commissioned by Nestlé, was conducted by TNS South Africa, a marketing and social insights company, among a sample of 3 001 people aged 16 and above across all parts of the country in mid-2011.

Most people say they get enough sleep but they tend to eat and drink whatever tastes good. They believe it is important to eat food full of vitamins and that healthy eating improves their appearance and the way they feel about themselves.

The study divided people into six main groups:

* The Health Managers are the most health conscious. They are selective about what they eat and shop at healthier stores. They prefer healthier cooking methods and have a sophisticated knowledge of health and nutrition. They choose food and beverages to boost energy levels, physical and mental performance and buy into food health properties. They are likely to take supplements and exercise – only 29 percent get little or no exercise. They have the highest intake of dairy, vegetables, fruit and water but this is still below the daily recommendations. They have the lowest salt and fat consumption. They actively seek out health and wellness information and read food labels.