SA is getting fatter, faster

Obesity was found to be more prevalent in women than in men of all age groups. The highest prevalence of obesity recorded in SA women is at 42%.

Picture: Suplied

JOHANNESBURG – According to the Vitality ObeCity Index 2017 half of South African adults are overweight or obese.

The index analysed data from Vitality members living in six cities across South Africa.

More obese people means that more people are now at increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and premature death.

“We are surrounded by an abundance of cheap, convenient and tasty foods, from fast food menus to processed snack foods. In recent decades, food companies have shifted their focus to mass-produced ultra-processed foods with a long shelf-life, such as potato chips, sweets, chocolates and sugary drinks,” the study said.

The results also show that obesity was found to be more prevalent in women than in men of all age groups. In sub-Saharan Africa in 2013, the highest prevalence of obesity was recorded in South African women, at 42%.

Not only is rising obesity associated with poorer health outcomes over time, but it is also associated with poor socio-economic outcomes and lower productivity in the workplace.


Some cities are marginally ‘healthier’ than others with respect to weight status, with Cape Town scoring best with 53.5% of Capetonians having a normal weight status.

Johannesburg and Durban came in at second and third, with 52.0% and 51.8%, respectively.

Port Elizabeth and Bloemfontein have the worst weight status, with 48.8% of residents having a healthy weight status in both cities.