Eating healthily and regular exercise can help stave off obesity and deadly belly fat. Picture: Pexels
It’s no secret that the number of calories people eat and drink has a direct impact on their weight.

However, even though people may know about the impact of food choices on our health, obesity is still on the rise in South Africa.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa’s chief executive, Professor Pamela Naidoo, says South Africa has one of the highest rates of overweight people and obesity in the world. Obesity is a major contributor to diabetes, which in turn is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

“We have to understand the link between making poor food choices on a daily basis, being at an unhealthy weight, and the risks of disease and early death,” Naidoo said.

While obesity can show itself anywhere in the body, research shows that belly fat carries serious health risks.

A new study has found that waist size is more accurate at assessing whether you’re at risk for an array of health problems than body mass index (BMI).

One of the best ways to tackle waistline fat is to eat healthily and do core exercises. Siya Mashele, an Adidas ambassador and certified personal trainer, says core exercises are an important part of a well-rounded fitness programme.

“Aside from occasional sit-ups and push-ups, however, core exercises are often neglected. Still, it pays to get your core muscles around your trunk and pelvis in better shape” said Mashele.

Here are exercises from Mashele that you can do anywhere:

* Hip lifts: begin on your back with your knees bent, arms straight beside you, feet flat on the ground. Engage your core. Press into your heels to lift your hips up until your body is a straight line between your knees and your shoulders.

* Abdominal chair crunch: sitting up straight and tall in a chair, clasp your arms behind your head with your elbows back.

Tighten your abs as you bring your opposite knee up towards your opposite elbow.