A new study conducted by MedicalAid.com has analysed the rates of unhealthy habits in several countries, including alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, obesity levels, and STD rates.
The results show that some countries have more unhealthy habits than others, and South Africa ranks tenth on the list.
The study highlights the fact that many bad habits can have a detrimental effect on our health, but some are far more damaging than others.
Habits, which constitute learned behaviour, can also be unlearned or replaced with new habits that will provide better health outcomes. However, it is the repetition of these behaviours over time that allows health problems to manifest.
Our human behaviour around health is a result of many different factors, including individual preferences, environment, and culture.
The study found that South Africa has high rates of alcohol consumption, tobacco smoking, obesity levels, and STD rates, contributing to its ranking as the tenth most unhealthy country. Other countries on the list include the United States, Hungary, and Mexico.
South Africa has one of the highest rates of sexually transmitted infections in the world, with over 7 million reported cases in 2019 alone.
The most prevalent sexually transmitted infections in South Africa include HIV, syphilis, and gonorrhoea. This problem is mainly due to several contributing factors, including a lack of access to education, poor healthcare infrastructure, and stigma surrounding sex.
According to the South African government’s National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and STIs 2017-2022, young people aged 15-24 years are at the highest risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections. Further, the prevalence of HIV infection among women aged 15-49 years is higher than that of men within the same age range.
However, it's not all bad news. The South African government has implemented several initiatives aimed at reducing the incidence of STIs. These include increasing access to testing and treatment, providing education and awareness campaigns, and promoting safe sex practices.
As individuals, we can also take steps to help reduce the incidence of STIs. Firstly, it's essential to educate ourselves about STIs and their prevention. We should also prioritise getting tested regularly and seek treatment if we test positive for an STI. Lastly, practising safe sex with the use of condoms and other forms of protection can help prevent the spread of STIs.
The study serves as a reminder that bad habits can have serious consequences on our health, and it is important to take steps to change them. By implementing healthy habits, such as regular exercise, a balanced diet, and avoiding excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption, individuals can improve their overall health and well-being.
South Africa ranked tenth for unhealthy lifestyle habits. South Africa recorded the highest rates of STD prevalence in the study at 37,273 out of 100,000 people, which massively impacted the score.
They also had the tenth-highest obesity rate at 28.3% of the population and the 14th-highest inactivity rate. However, South Africa scored 14th lowest on alcohol consumption and 15th lowest on smoking rates at 16.6% of the population.
Engaging in unprotected sexual activity can be very risky, especially if you are not in a committed monogamous relationship. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners exponentially increases the risk of contracting an STD, which can be unpleasant for those infected and can have lasting health implications.
By looking at which countries have the highest levels of STD prevalence, we can infer that rates of unprotected sex are also high in those locations. South Africa has the highest rate of STD prevalence at 37,273 people per 100,000, which is 294% higher than in Israel, where the lowest rate of 9,455 cases per 100,000 people was recorded.
India has the fewest unhealthy habits of any country in the study - scoring lowest in smoking rates and obesity rates, as well as the second lowest rate of STD prevalence.
The United States has the highest obesity rate at 36.20% of the population. China has the lowest rate of physical inactivity at 14%. Israel has the lowest rate of STD prevalence at 9,455 per 100,000 people.
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