Obesity - A growing issue in SA

A medical aid scheme says obese South Africans are in denial about their health.

An obese woman in the United States about to buy some cookies. Picture: AFP/Robyn Beck

CAPE TOWN - A medical aid scheme said on Wednesday many overweight and obese South Africans are in complete denial about their health.

New research indicates 78 percent of obese and 52 percent of morbidly obese people believe they are in good shape.

However, Profmed's CEO Graham Anderson said the numbers indicate otherwise, reminding that medical insurance premiums are higher for those with excessive kilos.

Anderson also indicated that obese patients face extra risks when going under the knife.

"They need to be fit for surgery and they need to be fit to take the anaesthetic. If you have a number of chronic conditions as well as obesity, your risk of going under anaesthetic and undergoing surgery are exponentially higher."

He said 61 percent of the nation is on the heavy end of the scale, but many don't admit to weight as an issue.

"I think there are people who just don't do anything about it, they're eager to have that extra piece of chocolate or milkshake and they don't exercise. People underestimate the importance of exercise, not only for your weight, but for all your other chronic conditions like your blood pressure or diabetes."