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Two Thirds of Women are Overweight

Love Handles
Love Handles

A report by the Centre of Metabolic Medicine and Surgery has revealed that as many as 66% of women in South Africa are overweight and 28% can be considered to be morbidly obese.

The figure in South African men is considerably lower with only 33% of men considered to be overweight and just 10% considered to be obese.

According to Graham Anderson of the Profmed Medical Scheme, 78% of obese and 52% of morbidly obese people in South Africa consider themselves to be healthy.

These figures are cause for concern as obesity leads to other serious illnesses which are associated with more than 2.5 million deaths a year worldwide.

Obesity related health problems include :-

  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Strokes
  • Heart Diseases
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems

One of the biggest problems facing our society and the world is that, unlike 30 years ago, being overweight is becoming widely accepted and is even considered to be perfectly acceptable.

Obesity in China

Our South African figures are a stark contrast to those that are available for China. Although there is major concern over the effect of popular American fast food outlets on the weight of the nation, obesity still sits at just 5%.

The biggest concern in the cities of China where obesity has become more evident is that especially the young people are forsaking their traditional foods and drinks of green tea in favor of the western fast foods such as KFC and McDonald’s and of course Coca-Cola.

Is Green Tea the Key to China’s low obesity rate?

For centuries the Chinese have drunk green tea as their beverage of choice.  Research has indicated that green tea is able to boost your metabolism by as much as 4% and therefore increase your fat burning. Drinking 3 to 5 cups a day of green tea not only helps with your weight control but also produces a whole host of other health benefits such as reduced cholesterol, anti aging, improved cardio function etc.

In my frequent trips to China I personally noticed the change in the youth of China as they slowly began to forsake their traditional foods and tea’s and replaced them with the western fast foods and coca-cola.

In 1999 I was impressed at just how thin and young looking the youth were and just how clear their complexions were. 18 Year old girls appeared to me as though they were not even in their teens yet.  Men and women in their late sixties appeared to be no older than fifty.

By 2011 this had changed in the youth. The young people were now looking the same age as their western counterparts. Clear complexions had been replaced with acne and in general the teenagers were showing signs of being overweight.

My Experiment with Green Tea.

Reflecting on these changes in the Chinese and the increasing research on the weight loss benefits of green tea I decided to see if my theory on green tea was correct. I began to drink between 3 and 5 cups of a quality loose leaf green tea and monitored my weight.

Within a period of just 1 month I found that not only did I feel so much more healthy but my weight had also dropped by an incredible 4.5 kg’s. This is amazing since I did not increase my exercise or change my diet apart from replacing some of my usual coffee with green tea instead.

Perhaps Green Tea could supply the solution to the worlds obesity problem.

Obesity in South Africa

Obese Man
Obese Man

Personally I would estimate that a far higher percentage of South Africans are overweight and as time passes I am noticing an alarming amount of young children who are becoming obese.

Sure, we have always had some “fatty” children running around but I am not talking about just slightly overweight kids, I am talking about children who are sometimes pre-school and who are morbidly obese.

What is causing the trend in obesity?

While there are a million factors contributing to obesity in S.A and the rest of the world there are some factors that are easier to control than others.

1) Fast Foods

It is a well known fact that wherever the popular American fast food outlets appear in the world then obesity seems to follow. These fast food chains have popularised unhealthy eating and have provided a simple solution to the housewives problem of providing food to the family.

Children are a major part of the new trend towards fast foods and as a result the unscrupulous marketing of these unhealthy foods is often targetted at children. Where the children wish to go the parents follow. Kiddie meals supplemented with a “cool” toy that every kid must collect ensures that these families return on a regular basis.

Dr Van Der Merwe has gone as far as to suggest that the government should impose a tax on unhealthy fast foods similar to the “Sin Tax” imposed on cigarettes and alcohol.

2) Soft Drinks

Water has become so uncool! Why drink water or some other healthy beverage when you can drink a refreshing sugar laden soft drink.  Of course these high sugar refreshments are often supplemented with caffeine so as to cause the user to return regularly for a top up of caffeine.

One 500ml popular brand soft drink was found to contain almost half of the recommended daily allowance of calories. Walking around popular supermarkets and observing the trolleys of shoppers all containing multiple 2 litre bottles of soft drinks indicate just how badly South Africans have become hooked on Soft Drinks.

The new “Sugar Tax” that is due to come into force in 2017 is mainly targeted at increasing sugar prices to try and reduce sugar usage by an overweight nation.

3) Lack of exercise

Although I commonly state that you do not need a major exercise program to lose weightyou do need some sort of exercise, such as walking, in order to burn off calories.

South Africa is plagued by a very high crime rate and as a result in many circumstances it is no longer safe to walk around. Suitable public transport is a problem that further aggravates the situation.

Children are collected directly from school. It is often preferred that they rather safely watch T.V or play computer games instead of running around outdoors with friends. Adults often have private cars and drive directly to where they wish to go. There is no excess walking such as encountered when using a public transport system.

In short most South Africans very seldom partake in any form of day to day exercise and this is a major contributor to the overweight state of the nation.


The fight against obesity will involve a massive change of lifestyle in South Africa which could well be nearly impossible to achieve. Taxes imposed upon fast food outlets and other accompanying legislation which forces fast food outlets to indicate calorie content of meals provided, may help to control the problem slightly but it is still merely a pin-prick in the ocean.

Legislation to control the sale of popular soft drinks will never happen as these companies provide valuable tax revenue to the government. The streets are unsafe and there is no adequate public transport system available and as a result most familes will continue to lack adequate daily exercise.

Unfortunately is does seem that obesity problem in South Africa is going to continue to grow out of control as it has done in countries such as the USA.