Why South Africans Are Always Fat


I think most people saw the rather startling photograph of an obese woman squeezed into a skimpy top that allowed fat bulges to balloon over the straining material, which was published in a number of newspapers at the end of May (see right).

Luckily it was a rear view and the feelings of the person who posed for this photo will hopefully have been spared. The accompanying headline was just as harrowing: “SA’s the fattest sub-Saharan African nation – study” (Malan, 2014).

Malan (2014) goes on to report that a study published in The Lancet, one of the leading UK medical journals, has found that we as a nation have the highest overweight and obesity rates in sub-Saharan Africa, which equates to 7 out of 10 women and 4 out of 10 men being overweight or obese.
Endless bad press

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It is sometimes downright disheartening to read anything that refers to South Africa’s expanding waistlines. In the present study, other countries in sub-Saharan Africa were found to have much lower rates of female obesity, for example: our neighbours Namibia, Lesotho and Zimbabwe have female overweight/obesity rates of 19,8%, 24,1% and 33,5%, respectively.

These are all less than half of the South African figure of 70% of women who are overweight, of which 40% are classified as obese.

The comparison is even less flattering if we compare our female population to the women of African countries such as Eritrea where only 4,7% of adult females are obese and Ethiopia where the percentage drops to 1,8%. Malan (2014) points out these figures are respectively 10 and 20 times less than in South Africa

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