Why has SA been ranked the unhealthiest country on earth?

A new global health ranking has placed South Africa at the top of the list of unhealthiest countries for 2019.

The Indigo Global Wellness Index, published in the journal Global Perspectives, used ten key measures to rank 150 countries.

Afrika Melane discusses the reasons for South Africa's ranking with Marika Sboros, co-editor with Tim Noakes of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs' and editor of foodmed.net.

The risk measures used in the index are:

  • Healthy life expectancy
  • Blood pressure
  • Blood glucose (diabetes risk)
  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Happiness
  • Alcohol use
  • Tobacco use
  • Inactivity
  • Government spending on health care

Sboros says these factors are similar to the ones the World Health Organisation takes into account when deciding on the health of a country.

She says South Africa's ranking as unhealthiest country is not unexpected, considering the epidemic of what's now being called 'diabesity'.

It's not unexpected because when you speak about those factors that are involved... to show we are probably one of the unhealthiest countries in the the world is blood glucose, diabetes risk level and obesity.

Marika Sboros, Co-author of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs'

Sboros points out that diabetes and obesity are rampant in South Africa, as in many developed countries.

They are so common that doctors are referring to the twin occurrences as 'diabesity'. They are very important because type 2 diabetes is like an umbrella term for a river, a tsunami of all sorts of other problems, particularly heart disease which is practically rampant in South Africa.

Marika Sboros, Co-author of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs'

We have this really fat scourge of obesity in ways that even many public health experts don't really understand.

Marika Sboros, Co-author of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs'

Even dementia diseases are becoming so common that doctors are referring to it as 'type 3 diabetes'.

Marika Sboros, Co-author of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs'

Sboros says one of the most worrying trends in South Africa is that type 2 diabetes levels are climbing among children.

I do think that our Minister of Health has got to do something very crucial, very quickly.

Marika Sboros, Co-author of 'Nutrition, Challenging Conventional Dietary Beliefs'

Listen to the full conversation with Sboros below:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Why has SA been ranked the unhealthiest country on earth?


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