Health department hopes to reduce obesity by 10% in 2020

The Department of Health hopes to cut obesity in South Africa by 10% by 2020‚ its chief director of health promotion‚ nutrition and oral health‚ Lynn Moeng said on Wednesday.

Addressing the Preventing Obesity workshop in Johannesburg‚ Moeng said obesity in South Africa was ranked fifth as a risk factor for early death and years of life lived with disability or disability-adjusted life years.

Moeng said there many causes of obesity‚ including insufficient physical inactivity‚ poor diet choices‚ big portion sizes and the easy accessibility of ultra-processed foods.

“We are not consuming adequate vegetables as we should be: 80% of South Africans are not eating the required servings we should be. We are also high consumers of salt‚” Moeng said.

She said what worked was restricting the marketing of food to children and taxing sugar-sweetened foods.

She said the department plans to reduce obesity by 3% next year and 10% by 2020.

She said a holistic plan has been developed which involves all layers of society‚ government departments and the food production industry to fight obesity.

She said a number of departments were involved in the plan. These include the Department of Sport an Recreation‚ with physical activity programmes‚ while the Department of Social Development deals with what children eat in crèches.

Dr Sundeep Ruder‚ an endocrinologist who is also a consultant at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital‚ said the number of obese people had seen an increase in sub-Sahara Africa‚ and South Africa had about 70% of women who were overweight or obese.

He said what was worrying was that one in four girls and one in five boys aged between two and 14 were obese.

Ruder said these children were likely to suffer a number of conditions in their young adult years.

Ruder said there were a number of medical complications of obesity including pulmonary diseases‚ strokes‚ cataracts‚ gall bladder disease and cancers of the breast‚ uterus‚ cervix‚ colon‚ oesophagus‚ pancreas‚ kidney and prostate.

Ruder said the most common cause for obesity was the intake of sugar. “Sugar addiction should be treated as a form of drug abuse. Sugar is the big issue‚” he said. — TMG Digital

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