n Africa Journal of Nursing and Midwifery - A situational analysis of obesity conducted in one South African community

Volume 15, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1682-5055


Some African communities, contrary to media portrayals of the general health perspective, might view obesity in a positive and desirable manner as a sign of affluence. Globally, obesity has reached epidemic levels (WHO, 2003). The target population for this study comprised a rural community in the Limpopo province of South Africa which is showing signs of modernisation. Such societies are generally prone to malnutrition. The researchers suspected that there might have been a discrepancy between community members' perceived and actual body weights, with individuals accepting bigger bodies as the norm, with potentially harmful health effects. The purpose of the study was to determine the level of obesity-related knowledge of the community members, as well as to investigate community members' anthropometric measurements, perceptions and practices relating to obesity. The study used both quantitative descriptive and qualitative exploratory designs. A convenience sample (n=111) of healthy community members participated in the study and a purposive sample was utilised for the qualitative study component. The data gathering methods included self-completion questionnaires, focus group discussions and field notes. The quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics, whilst the qualitative data were analysed by using content analysis. The findings illustrated obesity levels of 83.0% (n=92) amongst the participants and a lack of awareness of the health-related risks associated with obesity. Apparently, in the Venda and Tsonga languages, the concept of "obesity" does not exist. The findings also indicated that culture-competent health education is required to address cultural concepts of obesity as portraying beauty and affluence while thinness is associated with illness and suspicions of HIV and AIDS.

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