n African Journal for Physical Health Education, Recreation and Dance - The prevalence and clustering of non-communicable disease risk factors in a South African financial institution : a challenge to corporate management

Volume 21 Number 4.2
  • ISSN : 1117-4315


Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are currently a global epidemic, challenging the individual, corporate environment and health professionals in developed as well as developing countries. It is therefore understandable that comprehensive research has already focused on the detrimental outcomes of NCDs on health, productivity and health care costs in various parts of the world. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and clustering of various risk factors associated with NCDs in a financial institution in South Africa. Body mass index (BMI), systolic blood pressure (SBP), diastolic blood pressure (DBP), total cholesterol (TC), casual blood glucose (CBG), stress, smoking habits and physical activity (PA) were determined in a total of8 132 employees (3097 males and 5035 females) between ages of 18 and 65 years, covering all provinces in South Africa. Groupings were done according to age ((< 44 and ≥ 45 yrs.) and gender. Descriptive statistics, prevalence of NCD risk factor and clustering were analysed. The majority of employees assessed were at risk (moderate and high risk) with regard to most of the variables viz. increased BMI (65.8%), SBP (62.1%), DBP (56.6%), stress (58.3%) as well as being low physically active (55.4%). Older males (≥ 45 yrs.) were the most vulnerable group with moderate or high risk in BMI (43.2% overweight and 25.9% obese), SBP (51.3% prehypertensive & 26.7% hypertensive), DBP (45.6% pre-hypertensive & 28.5% hypertensive), TC (27.9% borderline high & 7.9% high) and CBG (31.3% borderline high & 23.5% high). Older females showed the highest prevalence of obesity (38.1%), TC (13%), borderline high CBG (35.2%) and stress (31.4%). The risk clustering showed that 42.1% of employees had a clustering of 3-4 risk factors, with older male (48.4%) and female (47.8%) employees experiencing a higher prevalence. Employers should consider the implementation of some health promotion strategies in order to minimize the prevalence of risk factors as well as the migration of employees at risk to higher risk stratum. One strategy, already identified to positively affect most NCD risk factors simultaneously, is the enhancing of physical activity amongst employees.

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