Trying to save could be making SA fat

Fin24
2013-08-08 13:23
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Pretoria - Price is the key factor for most South Africans when shopping for food, according to a study released by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) on Tuesday.

At the release of the SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (Sanhanes-1), Prof. Demetre Labadarios said the option of cheaper grocery items resulted in the population consuming detrimental diets high in fat and sugar content.

The survey found that it is clear that women do the grocery shopping. For almost 65% of them what is important when deciding to buy food is how much it costs. It makes sense, but has consequences.

'The second factor is the taste of the food. The fact that the food they buy is tasteful matters more to women than to men. That also makes sense," said Labadarios.

According to the survey only one in seven shoppers considered the health implications when buying food items.

"Against this background we have the prevalence of anaemia in adults. It is 12.2% in males, but in females it is almost double at 22%."

Regarding anthropometry -- the weight of citizens -- Labadarios said the number of underweight people in South Africa had decreased.

The survey found that the scale of obesity was tilted towards women.

"There is more obesity among women than men. Remarkably, at the age of 65, 79.8% of women are above the cut-off point of [waist circumference] which is 80cm, that is phenomenal," he said.

Compared to the 2003 SA demographic and health survey, the study showed that the percentage of underweight people and people with normal body mass had decreased, while those overweight and obese had increased.

Earlier, Labadarios said more than half of South Africans did not have regular access to enough food. Only 45.6% of the population was food secure.

The HSRC defines food security as access to food by all members of a household at all times, to enough food for an active and healthy life.

The food trends status in South Africa is classified under three sections -- food secure, at risk of hunger, and experiencing hunger.

"Measuring food security is not easy," Labadarios said.

"Regarding the food insecure, which is those that experience hunger, one out of four households experience hunger. The Western Cape, Gauteng, and the Northern Cape have low levels [of food insecurity] in comparison to other provinces."

Labadarios said that while 26% of the population experienced hunger, 28.6% were living at the risk of being hungry.

The number of citizens living "at the risk of hunger" had risen from 25% in the previous survey in 2008.

According to the 2012 study, the Eastern Cape, followed by Limpopo, had the highest numbers of citizens experiencing food insecurity. Food security was at its highest in the Western Cape.

The survey was compiled by a research consortium comprising the HSRC and the Medical Research Council, and was financed by the health department and the United Kingdom's department for international development.

 - Fin24

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