15 000 in SA aged over 100 - Census

2012-11-01 12:00
Elderly woman's hand (File,  <a href=\http://www.shutterstock.com\>Shutterstock</a>)

Elderly woman's hand (File, Shutterstock)

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2012-10-31 10:05

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Cape Town - A surprising number of South Africans are reaching the ripe old age of 100, Census 2011 figures show, with 358 people claiming they were aged between 115 and 120 when officials came knocking on their doors last year.

Die Burger reported on Tuesday that the Census counted 2 797 South Africans over the age of 110, and 15 581 people over the age of 100.

The ages were not independently verified, and were based on information given to Census officials.

KwaZulu-Natal has the biggest provincial share of centenarians, while Cape Town is the metro with the most citizens over 100 (1 051), followed by Durban with 971 and Johannesburg with 953.

In Durban, 31 people indicated their ages as between 115 and 120.

Diet, lifestyle

A number of small rural municipalities in the Northern Cape, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape are also home to a surprisingly large number of very old citizens.

There were 14 people who claimed to be aged between 115 and 120 in uPhongolo in rural northern KwaZulu-Natal, and 12 in Mthatha’s King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality.

Blouberg local municipality in Limpopo has 102 people over 100 while Aganang, also in Limpopo, has 132 and Louis Trichardt 302.

The former mayor of Jozini, Thembeni Mahlopa-Mthethwa, said it was well-known that people in the area lived to a ripe old age and put it down to the food they eat.

“People say they’re poor, but they eat fresh food that they grow themselves, they don’t really eat meat and they get exercise from the agricultural work they do and walking to the fields.”

Dr Dawie van Velden of Stellenbosch University told Die Burger he was surprised by the high number of over-100s, but agreed that diet and lifestyle would have a definite influence on health and longevity.

“A diet that tends to be more vegetarian, without junk food, combined with a less stressful life, can definitely improve your health, so it makes sense that people living in deep rural areas could live for a long time.

“Eating slightly too little is not nearly as bad for you as over-eating, and in the city many people die because of heart failure and diabetes, which are related to diet and lifestyle.

“On the other hand, more and more retirement homes have frail care centres with specialised medical care, meaning that people can be kept alive for longer,” he said.

 
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