“Female obesity rates align with previous data collected in 2019 by another health provider, but men seem to have really struggled with their weight during the pandemic. Based on our survey, obesity rates among men climbed by 40%,” said Jennings.
The SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) now reports a combined overweight and obesity prevalence of 13.5% in children aged 6-14 — about 10% higher than the global prevalence.
Jennings said while Covid-19 remains a public health threat, concurrent epidemics should not be neglected.
“While a sugar tax has been introduced, there is a need for additional legislative changes that focus on societal factors and the food industry. Health policymakers need to take bolder and more definitive steps to curb obesity. SA’s obesity-associated costs already stack up to an estimated R53.9bn a year, which puts a tremendous strain on our already fragile healthcare system.”
While the vast majority (88%) are aware that obesity heightens a person’s risk for severe Covid-19 complications, 19% of those polled said they won’t be making any attempt to address their weight issues.
Jennings said should the pandemic trend prevail, obesity may get much worse.
“Moving towards a healthier lifestyle is crucial, especially while we are still battling Covid-19. Now that everyone is accustomed to the new normal, let’s be proactive about establishing new, healthier habits to see us through the pandemic.”