Results of two studies just published by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) indicate that South Africans are digging their graves with their teeth.
The two MRC reports found that the following worrisome changes have occurred in South African health statistics:
What you can do
- The average life expectancy has decreased from 60 to 50 years.
- The average total kilojoule (energy) intake of South Africans has increased by 12%.
- Nearly 50% of all South Africans are overweight (BMI exceeding 25), or obese (BMI exceeding 30).
- 22% of our children in the age groups from 1 to 9 years are either overweight or obese.
- Life-style cancers have increased.
- Six million South Africans suffer from high blood pressure.
- Five million have high cholesterol levels and are at risk of heart disease.
- Nearly 1,5 million suffer from diabetes.
- Seven million South Africans are smokers.
- On average, South Africans eat only half the World Health Organisation's recommended daily allowance of 400g of fresh fruit and vegetables.
As a first step, South Africans should take note of the results of these studies and if any of the above-mentioned negative health attributes (overweight, obesity, inactivity, smoking, diseases of lifestyle) apply to you or your family, you must start doing something positive about these factors a.s.a.p.
The South African Food-Based Dietary Guidelines
The SA FBDG are as follows:
- Enjoy a variety of foods
- Be active
- Make starchy foods the basis of most meals
- Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day
- Eat dry beans, peas, lentils and soya regularly
- Meat, fish, chicken, milk and eggs can be eaten every day
- Eat fats sparingly
- Use salt sparingly
- Drink lots of clean, safe water
- If you drink alcohol, drink sensibly
- Use food and drinks containing sugar sparingly and not between meals
The tragedy of transition
In South Africa there are people, many people, who live below the bread line and suffer from malnutrition and even direct starvation. On the other hand, the reports published by the MRC show that large parts of the population eat too much of the wrong foods.
(MRC (2006) Dietary Changes & the Health Transition in SA; Vorster HH et al (2001) Development of FBDG for SA - the Process, SAJCN:14(3):S3-S6).
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