Obesity is the number one lifestyle disease: Here’s what you can do to protect your family


Have you looked at the latest statistics indicating the amount of people who are overweight and obese in South Africa?


Well, you're in for a shock. Check out these numbers:

These statistics are discouraging, and honestly, quite frightening if we consider that, according to Joburg physician Dr Gary Hudson, obesity is the number one non-communicable disease responsible for around one million deaths a year.

Metrocosm also put together a video detailing how the world became increasingly obese from 1975 to 2014:

Obesity is a condition where someone has too much body fat, however, it’s not to be confused with being overweight. If your Body Mass Index (BMI) is between 25 and 29.9, you are considered to be overweight, but if it’s greater than 30 you’re considered to be obese.

Although in the past being bigger and fuller bodied was a marker of wealth and prosperity in countries plagued by famine and a lack of resources, the harsh reality is that being overweight can lead to numerous other diseases including heart disease and subsequent strokes, hypertension, diabete, cholesterol and even cancer.

There are numerous factors responsible for causing obesity which include our genetics, sleep deprivation and of course, our lifestyle and diets. So while we may not necessarily be able to completely rewire ourselves and alter our genetic predisposition, we can look at our current lifestyle and eating habits and start living a healthier and even longer life. And a weight loss of 5-10% can result in a 5 point increase in HDL cholesterol – the good kind of cholesterol – that can lower the risk of developing things such as heart disease.

So we’ve put together a few things you can do in the home to ensure that the entire family embraces a healthier lifestyle:

1. Change your diet

After a busy day at work and between rushing from the office to pick up the kids and make it back again before your lunch break ends, it’s easier to just stop at your nearest drive through and buy a happy meal for the kids or open a packet of chips at work and stuff your face with junk food, instead of having a good nutritional meal. We completely get it.

But there are ways to ensure that both the kids and you get the most out of the food you’re eating because their sole purpose is after all to give you the fuel you need to keep going. The last thing it should be doing is making you feel worse.

Trading in your chips for healthier snacks

You can begin by cutting out the junk food and snacking on things such as unsalted nuts, which stabilise your blood sugar levels, and dairy products such as yogurts, which are high in protein.

You can even throw some muesli and fruit into the mix – citrus fruits and berries are also low-GI.

Making mealtime more nutritional

We can also look at the kinds of dishes we are putting on the table every night to ensure that we eat healthier as a family. So instead of foods that are calorie dense because they haven’t been well balanced, we suggest measuring out your portions of each ingredient to make a hearty yet nutritious meal. Check out the useful images below on how you can balance out your family meals:

Also read: Healthy recipes for kids by Jamie Oliver

Flavoursome substitutes for salt and sugar

The sodium levels in salt can increase blood pressure so it’s better to use substitutes when cooking that can actually enhance the flavour in your dishes. Start by snacking on unsalted snacks and use less salty sauces and seasoning with rosemary, sage, paprika and garlic, to name just a few.

2. Change your lifestyle

While these are all great ways to alter your diet, being healthy is a combination of both eating better and getting the right amount of physical activity.

In the US, according to research conducted by the program director of the Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner Program, children spend 5 to 10.5 hours a day watching TV, playing video games and engaging with their computers, tablets and smartphones. In fact, in a technologically developed world, we all spend a significant amount of time on our computers, tablets and smartphones. But this often means that we, along with our kids, end up spending more time lounging around than getting up and out and getting the fresh air and physical activity we should.

We therefore need to slip out of the sedentary lifestyle we’ve seemed to have embraced and spend more time going on family fun runs and picnics so our kids can go out and play, while simultaneously getting the physical activity their developing bodies need.

These are just a few simple and useful tips that can easily be employed in the home and we hope will make life a little easier and your family a little happier.

Read more:

What do you do in the home to ensure that your family lives a healthier lifestyle? Tell us by commenting below.

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