SA is growing – literally. About 61 percent of the country’s adults are overweight or obese, according to a study commissioned by a pharmaceutical company.
Forty-nine percent of the study group said they did not exercise.
“People are scared of making changes,” said Lynn Massyn, an administrative assistant who recently began walking for exercise.
Move for Health Day is celebrated on May 10 in South Africa. It began in 2002 as the theme for WHO’s World Health Day, and the Department of Health launched its campaign in 2005 under the slogan “Vuka South Africa, Move for your Health”.
Health Department spokesman Fidel Hadebe attributed the world’s obesity problems to poor diets, smoking and alcohol abuse but this is not just an SA phenomenon.
“Look at the US, it’s global.”
However, it seems SA is still in denial: according to the GSK study, 78 percent of obese and 52 percent of morbidly obese people consider themselves “healthy”.
Since extra weight can contribute to chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes, the numbers are alarming.
“People are naive,” said Keegan Hall, public relations co-ordinator of Diabetes South Africa. “They believe that they are healthy, but they’re actually not.”
Massyn was one of those people. She attributed her feelings of fatigue to stress, but in November she learnt the actual cause was type 2 diabetes.
“I was someone who said, ‘I’m a bit overweight, but I don’t have any other problems. I’m healthy; I look healthy,” Massyn said. “People don’t know where to make a change.”
Hall said: “It can be walking, running, going to the gym – any exercise makes a difference.”
Adults are not the only ones suffering the consequences of inactivity. The second Healthy Active Kids report card, released by Discovery Vitality in 2010, gave SA an unsatisfactory grade of C-. Since the first HAK report in 2007, physical activity has declined and obesity has increased. - Cape Argus