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Obesity in SA is expected to rise by 2030: Here are some suggestions to keep a healthy weight

Misleading labels on foods could be fuelling the obesity crisis. PICTURE: Supplied

Misleading labels on foods could be fuelling the obesity crisis. PICTURE: Supplied

Published Mar 3, 2023


Living with obesity reduces your quality of life on a multi-factorial plane, induces depression, and increases your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, which claim the lives of 215 individuals per day.

The Heart & Stroke Foundation reports that five people have heart attacks, and ten have strokes per hour.

Over 70% of South African women are now categorised as overweight or obese. This raises their chance of developing non-communicable conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and several types of cancer.

Rene Schickerling, Women’s Health Category Manager for Pharma Dynamics, says people who are obese have a 50 to 100% increased risk of premature death from all causes compared to those who are within a healthy weight range.

In addition to genes, metabolism, age, medication, sleep, diet, inactivity and many other factors, obesity is a complex disease. In general, obesity affects women more than men because of biological, socio-economic, and cultural differences.

South Africa is one of the countries with the highest obesity prevalence, with a projected increase in obesity by 47.7% in females and 23.3% in males by 2025.

According to Schickerling, being overweight has many negative effects, particularly on women, being overweight also affects a woman’s earning potential.

Picture by Valeria Boltneva/Pexels

Studies by economists around the world reveal that obese women get paid less than their slimmer counterparts. Interestingly, guys don't appear to be impacted by this in the same way. Regardless of their weight, men's incomes were not different.

The good news is that a woman can reduce her risk of health issues by losing even a tiny amount of weight, according to Schickerling. A significant change can be made by losing 5–10% of your body weight.

See your doctor for advice on a healthy food plan and an exercise routine that fits within your budget if you're unsure of where to begin or how much weight you need to lose.

Exercise and food alone won't get you started on your weight loss journey. It also depends on your age and weight.

Compared to post-menopausal women, younger women are likely to lose weight more quickly. Setting realistic objectives and collaborating with your healthcare provider is essential for your success. Recognise that results don't happen overnight.

If you’re struggling to lose weight, you may just need to make a few small tweaks. Here follows Schickerling’s advice:

Consume quality calories: You need to pay attention to what you eat as well. Sugary food digests quickly. Consume healthier foods that are rich in fibre, like fruit and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes.

Track your food: Keeping track of what you’ve eaten eliminates the bias you have toward yourself and will help you make healthier meal decisions.

Choose plant-based protein over meat: Proteins are not all made equal. Overconsumption of animal protein, especially red meat with its higher fat content, can result in weight gain.

Try a plant-based burger cooked with black beans, mushrooms, or other vegetables in place of a beef burger. You can try a variety of delectable vegetarian meals. Your body will appreciate the mental change once you've accomplished it.

Incorporate more whole foods: Lean meats like fish and poultry, as well as natural foods like fruit, vegetables, and grains, are all part of the Mediterranean diet and are linked to more effective weight loss than processed foods (pre-packaged meals, cereals, and crackers).

Make sure you have oats, whole-grain bread, eggs, frozen fish or poultry, and leafy greens in the refrigerator to make things simpler.

Boiling eggs, grilling fish or chicken, and/or adding some spinach to omelettes or soups are all quite simple additions to salads. Fresh fruit is a healthier alternative to salty or sweet snacks.

Stay active: Make a point of getting up and walking every hour – even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Portion control: Watch how much you eat, even if it’s healthy food, portion control is key.

Drink enough H2O: Double up on your water intake. It’ll make you feel full, thereby helping you to shed the kilos faster.

Read the latest issue of IOL Health digital magazine here.