The Hall of Shame

Eish! We made it into the Hall of Shame. Again! South Africans weigh in as the third fattest nation on earth, according to food services company Compass Group Southern Africa.

This stinging announcement was made last week, during National Obesity Week, and follows an earlier survey done by GlaxoSmithKline in 2010 which revealed that 61% of the South African population are overweight or morbidly obese. And this echoes another study done by the Medical Research Council in 2007 which found that 56% of adult women and 29% of adult men in SA were overweight or obese.

Why is it that South Africa always features among the top contenders whenever there's a new study on obesity? In a country famous for its sporting achievements and abundance of healthy fresh foods, this is a question that needs some serious pondering. As was clear from the collective outpouring of grief after our painful World Cup loss, we South Africans hate to be losers; however, obesity is one area where losing makes you a winner.

Our country is fat – horribly fat – and it's time we do something about it. Not just for our national image, but more importantly, for our health. Obesity has been linked to so many lifestyle diseases (heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension to mention a few).

It's time we declare a national crisis and make a collective effort to change these stats. Start by looking at yourself and your immediate circle of family and friends. Do you need to shed some weight? You can determine this by checking your body mass index (BMI) and your waist-hip ratio (WHR). If your BMI exceeds 25 and your WHR is greater than 1.0 (if you're a man) or 0.85 (if you're a woman) you are overweight and need to start losing weight now. Learn how to with our Ultimate guide to weight loss. You can also join BeweegSA, our joint healthy lifestyle challenge with Sarie magazine and RSG radio.

Here's to a lighter and healthier nation!

- (Birgit Ottermann, Health24 Nutrition Newsletter, October 2011)

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