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Where does the black population of South Africa stand on the nutrition transition?

  • Lesley T Bourne (a1), Estelle V Lambert (a2) and Krisela Steyn (a3)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1079/PHN2001288
  • Published online: 22 December 2006
Abstract
AbstractObjective:

To review data on selected risk factors related to the emergence of non communicable diseases (NCDs) in the black population of South Africa.

Methods:

Data from existing literature on South African blacks were reviewed with an emphasis placed on changes in diet and the emergence of obesity and related NCDs.

Design:

Review and analysis of secondary data over time relating to diet, physical activity and obesity and relevant to nutrition-related NCDs.

Settings:

Urban, peri-urban and rural areas of South Africa. National prevalence data are also included.

Subjects:

Black adults over the age of 15 years were examined.

Results:

Shifts in dietary intake, to a less prudent pattern, are occurring with apparent increasing momentum, particularly among blacks, who constitute three-quarters of the population. Data have shown that among urban blacks, fat intakes have increased from 16.4% to 26.2% of total energy (a relative increase of 59.7%), while carbohydrate intakes have decreased from 69.3% to 61.7% of total energy (a relative decrease of 10.9%) in the past 50 years. Shifts towards the Western diet are apparent among rural African dwellers as well. The South African Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 1998 revealed that 31.8% of African women (over the age of 15 years) were obese (body mass index (BMI) ≥ 30 kgm−2) and that a further 26.7% were overweight (BMI ≥ 25 to <30 kgm−2). The obesity prevalence among men of the same age was 6.0%, with 19.4% being overweight. The national prevalence of hypertension in blacks was 24.4%, using the cut-off point of 140/90 mmHg. There are limited data on the population's physical activity patterns. However, the effects of the HIV/AIDS epidemic will become increasingly important.

Conclusions:

The increasing emergence of NCDs in black South Africans, compounded by the HIV/AIDS pandemic, presents a complex picture for health workers and policy makers. Increasing emphasis needs to be placed on healthy lifestyles.

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*Corresponding author: Email lesley.boume@mrc.ac.za
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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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