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Soaring Obesity Rates Among Children In South Africa: Report
- Updated: July 11, 2014
Negative trends in children’s lifestyle continue to develop, as they get fatter and spend not enough time on physical activity, a recent study finds.
According to results released on Thursday by Discovery Health, African children score a D for health results, which confirms that children’s health is going in the wrong direction. In this third edition of the study, children did worse than in the previous ones run in 2007 and 2010, when they scored an overall C.
The study was conducted under health incentive programme run by Discovery by researchers from six local institutions who analysed data from the past five years to compile a report on the health of children aged 6-18.
The researchers found that more than two-thirds of teenagers eat fast food at least three times a week. South African kids were found to drink three times the global average of some soft drinks. Many children also buy food from school tuck shops or informal vendors offering them a very limited amount of healthy choices.
As only half of them are active enough, children watch about three hours of TV a day during the week and more on weekends.
The researchers estimate that the numbers of overweight or obese kids have risen in the past five years to reach 27 per cent among girls and 9 per cent for boys aged between 15 and 17 today.
Vicki Lambert, head of exercise science and sports medicine at the University of Cape Town, said that government’s efforts won’t be effective until when parents take action and cut their children’s screen time, get more involved in the food choices they make and encourage them to be more physically active.