Almost 70% of South African women are overweight - World Health Organisation

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 69 percent of women and 41 percent of men in South Africa are overweight.

This compares with the global average of 51 percent for women and 47 percent for men.

Being overweight has, according to the WHO, a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy.

5 most overweight countries in Africa (females):

  1. Egypt (76 percent)

  2. Seychelles (74 percent)

  3. Lesotho (71 percent)

  4. South Africa (69 percent)

  5. Tunisia (61 percent)

5 most overweight countries in Africa (males):

  1. Egypt (65 percent)

  2. Seychelles (64 percent)

  3. Mauritius (45 percent)

  4. Cameroon (44 percent)

  5. Tunisia (43 percent)

Obesity is a huge problem among almost all the world's large, developing nations. Even in India, the thinnest BRICS nation by far, about a fifth of the population is overweight.

BRICS ranked by proportion of females who are overweight:

  1. South Africa (69 percent)

  2. Brazil (60 percent)

  3. Russian Federation (52 percent)

  4. China (32 percent)

  5. India (18 percent)

BRICS ranked by proportion of males who are overweight:

  1. Brazil (54 percent)

  2. Russian Federation (47 percent)

  3. China (45 percent)

  4. South Africa (41 percent)

  5. India (20 percent)

Our women and men have problems, but so do those in many other countries

Most men from Australia (76 percent), New Zealand (74 percent), United Kingdom (68 percent), Germany (67 percent) and Canada (67 percent) are overweight.

Women from New Zealand (74 percent) are more overweight than those from South Africa while the proportion of Australian women (67 percent) that is overweight is similar to that of South African women. British (64 percent), Canadian (60 percent) and German women (57 percent), while overweight, are in better shape than women from South Africa.

10 most overweight countries in the world (males):

  1. Nauru (97 percent)

  2. Cook Islands (93 percent)

  3. Federated States of Micronesia (93 percent)

  4. Tonga (91 percent)

  5. Samoa (81 percent)

  6. Niue (81 percent)

  7. United States (81 percent)

  8. Argentina (78 percent)

  9. Greece (78 percent)

  10. Palau (77 percent)

10 most overweight countries in the world (females):

  1. Nauru (93 percent)

  2. Tonga (92 percent)

  3. Federated States of Micronesia (91 percent)

  4. Cook Islands (90 percent)

  5. Niue (87 percent)

  6. Palau (84 percent)

  7. Samoa (84 percent)

  8. Barbados (83 percent)

  9. Dominica (81 percent)

  10. Trinidad and Tobago (81 percent)

Notes:

Percentages indicate the proportion of the population older than 15 with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of more than 25, which the WHO classifies as “overweight”.

BMI is a simple index of weight-for-height that is commonly used to classify adults as underweight, overweight or obese. It is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2). For example, an adult who weighs 70kg and whose height is 1.75m will have a BMI of 22.9.

BMI, the most widely used method for measuring obesity is by no means perfect as it doesn't distinguish between lean muscle mass and fat mass. (I.e. very muscular athletes might be categorised as overweight). Having said that; most people aren't athletes and BMI remains a useful measure.

Click here for the full report on males and here for the full report on females.

Also listen to Dr Michael Mol discuss why South African women are so much more overweight than South African men.


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