Updated 11 March 2014

Obese people in denial, report finds

Around 78% of obese and 52% of morbidly (extremely) obese people in South Africa astonishingly consider themselves to be healthy..


Most overweight people are in denial, a study by Profmed medical scheme revealed on Wednesday.

"Around 78% of obese and 52% of morbidly (extremely) obese people in South Africa consider themselves to be healthy," said Graham Anderson from the scheme. He said South Africa needed to highlight the issue as obesity week was from October 15-19.

"People who are overweight are not only more at risk of a number of serious illnesses, but may also be subject to higher medical insurance premiums," said Anderson. According to Profmed, 61% of South Africans were either overweight or obese.

Another report from the Centre of Metabolic Medicine and Surgery (CMMS) stated more women suffered from obesity than men. "Some 66% of women and 33% of men in this country are overweight and between 10% of men and 28% of women may be classified as morbidly obese," said Dr Tessa van der Merwe from CMMS.

2.2 billion people obese globally

She said about 2.2 billion people were overweight around the world and 500 million were considered to be obese. "The problem is a global one, which is growing... Experts acknowledge the complicated nature of this disease and there is agreement that it is not just a case of excess kilojoule intake and diminished energy expenditure," she added.

Obesity came hand-in-hand with medical problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, strokes, heart diseases, asthma, depression, and sleep problems."These conditions are responsible for a staggering 2.5 million deaths per year worldwide." Van der Merwe said studies on the topic were being done on a continuous basis.

"The truth is that we do not entirely understand why some people are obese while others are not. We do know that contributory factors can include hereditary, environmental, cultural, socio-economic, and psychological factors."

She said weight-loss programmes were not entirely effective and less than five percent yielded success in the long-term.


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