n CME : Your SA Journal of CPD - Ethnic differences in obesity : main topic

Volume 23, Issue 11
  • ISSN : 0256-2170



The prevalence of overweight (BMI &gt; 25 kg) and obesity (BMI > 30) in South Africa is high, with more than 29% of men and 56% of women being classified as overweight or obese. <br>The groups most at risk are urbanised black women (58.5% overweight or obese) and white men (54.5% overweight or obese). <br>The major determinants of obesity in South Africa include ethnicity, ruralurban transition, education level, inactivity, and increasing availability of energy-dense and fatty foods. <br>Obesity in children is associated with inactivity, as measured by television viewing time. <br>Ethnic differences in body fat distribution (central obesity) may influence the morbidity pattern and health risks associated with obesity in South Africa. <br>Overweight and obesity are completely underestimated in South Africa. Perceptions regarding obesity are largely driven by socio-cultural norms, with the black population having a greater tolerance for a larger body size. <br>In disadvantaged communities where food security is low, the concept of voluntarily regulating food intake for weight control may not be acceptable, and may therefore hinder the effectiveness of weight loss interventions. <br>Education is key to weight management, and nutrition and lifestyle messages delivered by health professionals, the media, and suitably educated community health workers may provide an effective vehicle for intervention. <br>Future research should focus on weight loss intervention strategies that are culturally specific, and should include dietary and behavioural aspects, as well as interactions with pharmacotherapy.

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