Durban - A comment that white South Africans should take a leaf out of their black counterparts’ books if they hoped to decrease their chances of developing hypertension, has been questioned.
Statistician-general Pali Lehohla said earlier in the week that hypertension was “a disease of not being happy” and remarked that it was most prevalent among whites.
Lehohla attributed this to whites’ high fat diets, low level of exercise and “cultural habits”.
He was addressing parliament’s portfolio committee on the 2011 General Household Survey, the 2010 mortality survey and other surveys .
On Thursday, Lehohla spoke at the launch of the KwaZulu-Natal Research Forum in Durban.
“Saying ‘Sawubona, how are you?’ is a black thing and I think that the spirit of ubuntu makes black people not have hypertension,” he told The Mercury.
When questioned on his controversial comments, Lehohla said he had not said whites were unhappy, but otherwise maintained his stance.
“Diseases such as hypertension are diseases of the mind; they reflect a nagging mind; a mind that is always troubled,” he said.
“Uncertainty” created this, he said, and it was common among whites but not among blacks.
Poor living conditions did not contribute towards a high prevalence of hypertension, said Lehohla, otherwise black people would be the worst affected.
But Southern African Hypertension Society president Professor Brian Rayner took issue with the statistician-general’s stance, saying hypertension was probably more common in black South Africans than in whites.
Rayner said he was not familiar with the data Lehohla had been reporting on, but research previously undertaken suggested blacks tended to suffer more from kidney disease and heart failure resulting from hypertension whereas whites tended to suffer more from heart attacks.
One in three South Africans were hypertensive.
And, while lifestyle was a major factor, so were genetics. As much as half a person’s risk of developing hypertension was based on family history, said Rayner.
According to the World Health Organisation hypertension caused almost 13 percent of deaths globally. - The Mercury