World Heart Day: Time to re-think your lifestyle

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - SEPTEMBER 29, 2014

In case, you did not know, today is World Heart Day and perhaps a good time to rethink about your health.

A ground-breaking study published in the medical journal, the Lancet, early this year, showed that South Africa has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa. Seven out of 10 women and four out of 10 men have significantly more body fat than what is deemed healthy.

In a 2011 health survey, pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, called South Africa ‘the third-fattest nation in the world’ and a Medical Research Council study found that 61% of the South African population is overweight or obese.

The Lancet study said that, of the 70% of overweight South African women, 42% are obese.

A previous SA Medical Research Council found that 70% of all South African women over the age of 35 were overweight or obese with 33% of black women exposed to the greatest risk and a quarter of coloured, white and Indian women following suit. In contrast, 18% of white men over the age of 35 are obese, followed by 9% percent of Indian, 8% percent of coloured, and 6% percent of black men.

Threat to the heart

Research has shown that the risk for developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteaoarthritis and chronic kidney disease increase when a person’s weight-to-height ratio, also called a body mass index, exceeds 23.

With an estimated 2,8 million people annually dying as a result of being overweight or obese, it’s time for South Africans to take stock, according to the Self-Medication Association of South Africa (SMASA).

Preventive measures can have a positive impact

Healthy eating is one thing that everybody should take seriously. Avoid food options that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and processed sugars. Enjoy a diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and seeds.

Limit your consumption of meat and try and do a vegetarian meal at least once a day says experts.

Exercise and exercise. Start by brisk walking for an hour every day before gradually switching to intense physical activity like jogging. At the same time, beat some bad habit and manage stress.