South Africans are making poor food choices and obesity is at an all time high

South Africa is grappling with obesity.

Professor Vishwas Satgar, chairperson of the board of the Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre (COPAC) says alongside Tuberculosis (TB) and HIV, South Africa tops the Sub-Saharan Africa charts of obesity. He says at least 70% of women and a third of men are considered obese.

We also have a serious challenge amongst younger children between 6 and 14 years, one in four girls and one in five boys are obese explains Satgar.

It's a very serious challenge for our society and creates a host of serious health problems, ranging from diabetes, blood pressure and other heart disorders.

Professor Vishwas Satgar, chairperson of the board of the Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre

Clinical nutritionist and founder of the Re~Invent Company Nicci Robertson notes that there is a lot more to the subject and crisis of obesity.

It started about three decades ago when the food manufacturing industry decided that selling products was far more important than what was in the product, says Robertson.

She further elaborates that the way food is designed is another factor that has led to the increase in unhealthy food.

We think we should go on a diet to lose weight. Anyone that's been on a diet will tell you that they don't work. So there's so much trick nonsense out there and it is selling false hope.

Nicci Robertson, Clinical Nutritionist and founder of the Re~Invent Company

Robertson says we have to look at why we want sugar, why we want bad fats and quick fixes. She adds that our relationship to food isn't what it should be.

Food is communication to your cells. When you produce or process the food, you change the chemical structure of the food, therefore changing your neurological relationship to that food leading to addiction. Sugar works in the same pathways in the brain as heroin.

Nicci Robertson, Clinical Nutritionist and founder of the Re~Invent Company

Satgar chimes in to say that in the South African context we cannot let apartheid off the hook but also says we cannot be fixated on that specific part of the problem. He uses single sex male hostels in that era as an example and how certain food diets were imposed on some.

Its the power of marketing prevailing in these spaces.

Professor Vishwas Satgar, chairperson of the board of the Co-operative and Policy Alternative Centre

To hear the rest of the interview, listen below:


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