Over many decades our food environments have relentlessly been encouraging us to make choices that are harmful to our health, through pricing, marketing and availability.
The public bears the suffering and costs of the global epidemic of noncommunicable diseases, and the rapidly accelerating climate emergency.
Regular physical activity helps to prevent and manage many chronic diseases.
Factors such as having supportive family and friends, safer communities, positive school environments and adequate resources, are often associated with more physical activity.
Addressing the noncommunicable disease pandemic can also mitigate challenges facing people living with HIV and complement efforts against TB.
South Africa has seen an increase in people who smoke.
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Reductions in the affordability of cigarettes will ensure significant reductions in tobacco use.
Eleven percent of South African adults live with diabetes.
Most people with diabetes are poorly controlled. This makes them vulnerable to complications like eye problems, kidney disease, and even amputations.
Quantifying the financial costs of overweight and obesity is important for national policy.
Lowering obesity and overweight rates will lift the burden on healthcare spending.
Food parcels are handed to residents at a food distribution organised by the grassroots charity Hunger Has No Religion, in Westbury, Johannesburg.
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Problems caused by malnutrition - such as obesity - are on the rise in South Africa, with serious health consequences.
South Africa should introduce regulations that mandate the nutritional labelling of fast foods. This will help consumers make informed dietary choices.
Many people with diabetes are undiagnosed.
With such a sharp increase in global prevalence, it’s clear that diabetes is spiralling out of control. It can no longer be ignored.
Diabetes can be controlled using medicines, diet and lifestyle modification.
Insulin and oral medicines for diabetes are mostly not available at the recommended level in the African region.
Labels are not the only tool needed in the effort to prevent noncommunicable disease.
It’s not clear how health claims could be substantiated, enforced or understood, but there are other ways to encourage healthy food choices.
Early detection of diabetes is important in setting treatment targets
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Targets for diabetes would improve healthy lives, reduce deaths, and be cost effective. But they should not be for managing diabetes alone; they must include treating hypertension.
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Big Food companies producing ulta-processed foods are using a range of key market and political practices to increase their reach, particularly in developing countries.
Healthcare worker, Boitsholo Mfolo, inside the digital x-ray truck at one of Africa Health Research Institute’s mobile screening camps in rural KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.
Samora Chapman/ Africa Health Research Institute
South Africa needs a public health response that expands the successes of the country’s HIV testing and treatment programme to provide care for multiple diseases.
Many South Africans live in poor conditions with no access to running water.
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Harsh socio-environmental factors, especially when they happen in the early years of a child’s life, can establish a developmental “biology of misfortune”.
White River Primary school in South Africa, sponsored by Coca Cola.
A ban on sugary drinks sale and advertisements in schools is likely to hold more promise in improving the diets of children and help prevent obesity in children than voluntary actions.
Diabetes is a leading cause of death in the country.
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In 2019, 89,834 people died of diabetes. This number exceeds the capacity of Soccer City, the biggest football stadium in South Africa.
Governments must take urgent action to prevent noncommunicable diseases from becoming an uncontrollable epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa. Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation offers a potential solution.
Appropriately designed taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages would result in proportional reductions in consumption.
Without reliable, local and timely data, countries will miss the potential of sugar-sweetened beverage taxation as a public health intervention.