OBESITY is fast becoming a silent killer, especially among black women.
According to research by the Medical Research Council, more than 60percent of black women in urban areas are obese.
Mali Ramara, a sports nutritionist and personal trainer, says this problem is "escalating at an alarming rate." One in three women is seriously overweight and 30 percent are clinically obese.
"Obesity is characterised by excessive fat storage with high body fat that negatively affects your health," Ramara says.
"Our body needs a certain percentage of fat to function optimally, but being obese not only makes it more difficult to move around and perform physical activities, it also increases the risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and many other health problems.
"To put it simply, obesity is caused by overeating and lack of exercise."
She says beliefs that thin women may have the HI virus and that big is beautiful contributes to the problem.
"Some women with psychological problems sometimes use food as a comforter," she says.
"Also, the Western lifestyle has influenced Africans' eating habits. They eat more processed and less nonnutritious food."
Ramara says an active lifestyle helps fight obesity.
"Every small step taken is important," she says. "Living a healthy lifestyle is extremely important.
"The fight starts in the mind. Self-control and discipline are difficult, but can be achieved with support from family and friends. Surrounding yourself with positive people will help you focus."
Ramara's tips on how to reduce chances of becoming obese:
lLimit salt intake;
lEat less red meat;
lLimit fried food and eat baked or boiled food;
lEat plenty of fruits and vegetables;
lDrink six to eight glasses of water a day;
lLimit sweets, cakes, chocolates and chips;
lLimit white pap, white bread and dumplings;
lAvoid alcohol, or drink in moderation;
lTake brisk walks; and
l Do 30 minutes physical activity a day.