08 April 2010

CT the unhealthiest city in SA

Joburg is the healthiest city in SA - Cape Town is the unhealthiest with the most smokers, heaviest drinkers, lowest levels of physical activity and the most overweight residents.

Johannesburg is the healthiest city in South Africa. Cape Town, South Africa’s unhealthiest city, contains the most smokers, heaviest drinkers, lowest levels of physical activity and the most overweight residents.

A Discovery Vitality analysis of data collected during a series of wellness days at corporate clients around the country revealed these results. Discovery Vitality in conjunction with the Sport Science Institute of South Africa conducted preliminary research to determine the ranking of the major metropolitan areas in South Africa in terms of health and fitness.

In descending order, the cities were Johannesburg followed by Durban, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth and Cape Town trailing in last position. 

“While Capetonians may think the sun, sea and mountain gives them an edge when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle, our research data indicates that theirs is in fact the unhealthiest major city in South Africa,” says Dr Craig Nossel, Head of Vitality Wellness at Discovery.

Capetonians six months 'older'

The cities’ overall health rating is based on the Vitality Age calculation, which incorporates the lifestyle behaviours (risk factors) of smoking, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake, alcohol consumption, blood pressure, cholesterol, depressive symptoms, body mass index, and blood glucose, of Vitality members resident in these areas. 

The analysis indicates that, on average, the Vitality members in Cape Town are six months older than their counterparts in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg residents surpassed Capetonians in all the major health indicators. 

“Over 29% of Johannesburg members participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity physical activity (the recommended minimum for health benefits) compared to 25.7% in Cape Town,” says Dr Nossel.

“Nearly 12% of Johannesburg members eat the recommended minimum of five fruits and vegetables per day compared to just 9.8% in Cape Town.

“Most surprisingly, only 34.8% of Cape Town members fell within the healthy BMI (Body Mass Index) range of between 18.5 and 25, while 41.7% of Johannesburg members fall within the range.”.

Stats are 'worrying'

“The statistics across all cities are quite worrying. Physical inactivity and obesity are approaching epidemic proportions globally.

“The result is an increased prevalence of chronic diseases, poor quality of life, increased healthcare expenditure and premature death.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), regular physical activity can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, help control weight, contribute to healthy bones, muscles and joints, help relieve the pain of arthritis, and reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, amongst many other benefits.
The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) World Health Day campaign, themed "1 000 cities, 1 000 lives” has called upon cities worldwide to open up their streets for health activities during the week 7 -11 April.

Breakdown of data

  • Data used was collected during the course of 2009
  • The sample size per City
    • Johannesburg -   15 824
    • Cape Town -  14 727
    • Durban -   8 084
    • Pretoria – 7 814
    • Port Elizabeth - 1 709 
  • In support of the World Health Day campaign, Discovery Vitality will be awarding triple Vitality points to members for exercising at Vitality fitness partners or buying HealthyFood™ items from Pick n Pay today, 7 April 2010. - (Press release, Discovery Vitality, Apirl 2010)

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