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6 Small changes to beat winter weight

mplement these six changes and you won’t gain weight between June and September – in fact you may even lose as much as 20kg before spring, depending on how bad your current habits are.

We know when the temperature drops our weight does the opposite. As we tuck into pies and stews to ward off the winter chill we’re making sure there’s an extra – fatty – layer between us and the cold. And when it’s miserable outside nobody feels like getting up from the couch to exercise.

The slow-down in physical activity and a winter diet of stodgy, fatty food are the main reasons people gain weight in winter. So, how do we avoid becoming as heavy as our favourite winter foods?

CHANGE 1: GO FOR FRUIT, DROP THE PUDDING

Winter fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, naartjies, pawpaw, kiwi fruit and guavas are brimming with protective nutrients such as vitamin C and bioflavonoids to help ward off winter colds and flu, and they’re low in kilojoules.

Try eating one of these fruits at each meal to fill you up and boost your immune system.

The difference

If you eat just five portions of fruit a week (more would be even better) instead of pudding or a 100g bar of chocolate, you won’t gain a gram. If you used to eat puddings, cakes and chocolates at least three times a week your new habit will help you lose up to 5kg in three months.

CHANGE 2: OPT FOR LOW-KILOJOULE SOUPS AND STEWS

Winter is the best time to eat soups which can be nutritious without increasing your energy intake. The simplest soups can be made with a variety of vegetables cooked with beef or chicken stock. Use stock cubes that are low in kilojoules or make your own stock from chicken or beef, let it cool in the fridge then remove the fat that has solidified on top.

Use fat-free milk to make cream of vegetable soups and add fat-free yoghurt instead of cream. Prepare your soup or stew the day before, let it cool in the fridge and scoop off the solidified fat before you heat it. For every teaspoon of fat you remove, you save nearly 200kJ. Serve vegetable soups with crusty wholewheat bread for a delicious, wholesome, non-fattening meal that will keep you warm and full for hours.

The difference

Try having a low-kilojoule soup for one of your main meals every day this winter. Remember to skim off the fat from your stews. This way you won’t gain weight; you may in fact lose up to 3kg in three months.

CHANGE 3: SWITCH TO FAT-FREE DAIRY PRODUCTS

Research shows eating more fat-free or low-fat dairy products can actually help you lose weight. Using fat-free milk for hot drinks such as Milo means you won’t be piling on the kilos this winter.

The difference

If you replace full-cream milk with skimmed (fat-free) or low-fat (2%) milk, use low-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese instead of the full-cream versions and stick to no more than three portions of dairy a day (three glasses of milk or three small yoghurts or three matchbox-sized portions of cottage cheese) you can lose between 2 and 4kg in three months. How much you lose will depend on whether you choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

CHANGE 4: TRY NON-NUTRITIVE SWEETENERS

Instead of adding two or three teaspoons of sugar to your hot beverages, use artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners. If you have five hot drinks a day, you’ll save between 800 and 1 200kJ.

The difference

You’ll lose between 2 and 3kg in three months.

CHANGE 5: GO SLOW ON THE PIES, FRIES AND PASTRIES

It’s convenient to snack on sausage rolls, samoesas, pastries, chips or deep-fried chicken takeaways when it’s cold outside. Somehow the idea of eating warm food seems comforting.

The difference

If you can steer clear of these foods this winter you have a good chance of not gaining weight. And if you usually eat a pie and packet of hot chips a day your new habit will help you to lose up to 5kg in three months.

CHANGE 6: BE ACTIVE

Make a deliberate decision to be more active this winter. Go for brisk walks when the sun is out; join a gym; go to dancing, Pilates or yoga classes; or try home workouts. After 10 minutes you’ll feel as warm as toast and glowing with health. Being active will also help keep gloominess at bay.

The difference

If you continue your summer exercise regime you won’t gain weight. If you’ve been a couch potato you’ll lose weight if you start exercising. If you walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, five to six days a week for three months, you’ll lose up to 1.5kg in three months. If you add three 30-minute sessions of muscle exercise to your routine three times a week, you can lose 3kg in three months.

Fast fact: If you feel depressed in winter your body reacts by producing more serotonin, the “happy hormone”. One of the ways in which the body tries to boost serotonin production is to increase your craving for carbohydrates. Unfortunately many carbohydrate foods such as chips, cakes, pies, pastries and chocolate also have a high fat content. If you eat a lot of these foods because you feel the urge to stock up on carbohydrates you’ll most probably gain weight.

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Posted by on August 1, 2011 in Exercise & Food

 

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Eating in winter

Last updated: Thursday, November 13, 2008 Print

Implement these six changes and you won’t gain weight between June and September – in fact you may even lose as much as 20kg before spring, depending on how bad your current habits are.
By Dr Ingrid van Heerden

We know when the temperature drops our weight does the opposite. As we tuck into pies and stews to ward off the winter chill we’re making sure there’s an extra – fatty – layer between us and the cold. And when it’s miserable outside nobody feels like getting up from the couch to exercise.

The slow-down in physical activity and a winter diet of stodgy, fatty food are the main reasons people gain weight in winter. So, how do we avoid becoming as heavy as our favourite winter foods?

CHANGE 1: GO FOR FRUIT, DROP THE PUDDING

Winter fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, naartjies, pawpaw, kiwi fruit and guavas are brimming with protective nutrients such as vitamin C and bioflavonoids to help ward off winter colds and flu, and they’re low in kilojoules.

Try eating one of these fruits at each meal to fill you up and boost your immune system.

The difference
If you eat just five portions of fruit a week (more would be even better) instead of pudding or a 100g bar of chocolate, you won’t gain a gram. If you used to eat puddings, cakes and chocolates at least three times a week your new habit will help you lose up to 5kg in three months.

CHANGE 2: OPT FOR LOW-KILOJOULE SOUPS AND STEWS

Winter is the best time to eat soups which can be nutritious without increasing your energy intake. The simplest soups can be made with a variety of vegetables cooked with beef or chicken stock. Use stock cubes that are low in kilojoules or make your own stock from chicken or beef, let it cool in the fridge then remove the fat that has solidified on top.

Use fat-free milk to make cream of vegetable soups and add fat-free yoghurt instead of cream. Prepare your soup or stew the day before, let it cool in the fridge and scoop off the solidified fat before you heat it. For every teaspoon of fat you remove, you save nearly 200kJ. Serve vegetable soups with crusty wholewheat bread for a delicious, wholesome, non-fattening meal that will keep you warm and full for hours.

The difference
Try having a low-kilojoule soup for one of your main meals every day this winter. Remember to skim off the fat from your stews. This way you won’t gain weight; you may in fact lose up to 3kg in three months.

CHANGE 3: SWITCH TO FAT-FREE DAIRY PRODUCTS

Research shows eating more fat-free or low-fat dairy products can actually help you lose weight. Using fat-free milk for hot drinks such as Milo means you won’t be piling on the kilos this winter.

The difference
If you replace full-cream milk with skimmed (fat-free) or low-fat (2%) milk, use low-fat yoghurt and cottage cheese instead of the full-cream versions and stick to no more than three portions of dairy a day (three glasses of milk or three small yoghurts or three matchbox-sized portions of cottage cheese) you can lose between 2 and 4kg in three months. How much you lose will depend on whether you choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products.

CHANGE 4: TRY NON-NUTRITIVE SWEETENERS

Instead of adding two or three teaspoons of sugar to your hot beverages, use artificial or non-nutritive sweeteners. If you have five hot drinks a day, you’ll save between 800 and 1 200kJ.

The difference
You’ll lose between 2 and 3kg in three months.

CHANGE 5: GO SLOW ON THE PIES, FRIES AND PASTRIES

It’s convenient to snack on sausage rolls, samoesas, pastries, chips or deep-fried chicken takeaways when it’s cold outside. Somehow the idea of eating warm food seems comforting.

The difference
If you can steer clear of these foods this winter you have a good chance of not gaining weight. And if you usually eat a pie and packet of hot chips a day your new habit will help you to lose up to 5kg in three months.

CHANGE 6: BE ACTIVE

Make a deliberate decision to be more active this winter. Go for brisk walks when the sun is out; join a gym; go to dancing, Pilates or yoga classes; or try home workouts. After 10 minutes you’ll feel as warm as toast and glowing with health. Being active will also help keep gloominess at bay.

The difference
If you continue your summer exercise regime you won’t gain weight. If you’ve been a couch potato you’ll lose weight if you start exercising. If you walk briskly for 30 minutes a day, five to six days a week for three months, you’ll lose up to 1.5kg in three months. If you add three 30-minute sessions of muscle exercise to your routine three times a week, you can lose 3kg in three months.

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Exercise & Food

 

Basic Diet

Basic diet plan

Breakfast
  • 1 serving of fruit
  • 1 glass of orange juice
  • ½ cup of bran-rich cereal
  • ½ a cup of low-fat milk

OR

  • ½ cup of low-fat yoghurt
  • 1 teaspoon of honey on cereal

Tea, coffee, or cocoa with ¼ cup of low-fat milk

Variations
Substitute two slices of whole-wheat toast for the cereal, plus two teaspoons of medium-fat margarine and two tablespoons low-fat cheese (substitute one poached egg for cheese, but only three to four times a week).

Lunch 2-4 servings of bread

  • 2 double-slice, whole-wheat sandwiches with 2 teaspoons of medium-fat margarine

2 servings of meat/cheese

  • 2-4 teaspoons of grated low-fat cheese OR 2 thin slices of meat without fat (60g)

1 serving of vegetables

  • Lettuce, tomato, cucumber

1 serving of fruit

  • Banana/apple/orange/grapes

Tea or coffee with ¼ cup of low-fat milk OR 1 glass of fruit juice

Variations
Low-fat yoghurt with 2 fruits OR 2 thin slices of meat, like chicken breasts, with 2 cooked vegetables (beans/peas/butternut) and 2 fruits (no desserts).

Supper 2 servings of meat/cheese

  • 2 slices of low-fat meat (chicken breasts, beef) (50 g)

2 servings of starch

  • 1 large baked potato

2 vegetables

  • ½ cup of cooked carrots and ½ cup of salad

2 teaspoons of fat

  • 1 teaspoon of low-fat yoghurt dressing for potato and 1 teaspoon of low-oil dressing on salad

1 fruit

  • Apple/banana/grapes

Tea, coffee or cocoa with ¼ cup of low-fat milk

Low-fat diet recommendations

  • Skimmed milk, and milk products, e.g. yoghurt and cottage cheese made from skimmed milk.
  • Low-fat cheese, e.g. mozzarella, edam and tilsiter.
  • Unrefined cereals, e.g. whole-wheat, brown or rye bread, brown rice, unrefined maize meal, bran-rich breakfast cereals, oats, maltabella, crisp breads, pasta (spaghetti, macaroni, noodles).
  • Fresh and preferably raw fruit and vegetables, canned or frozen vegetables, dried fruit.
  • Boiled or poached eggs, restrict to 4 per week.
  • Small portions of meat, chicken or fish with all the visible fat cut off and prepared by grilling, steaming or pan baking without added fat.
  • Legumes, e.g. cooked dry beans, peas, lentils and vegetable protein meat replacers, e.g. Toppers.
  • 2 tablespoons of fat-reduced margarine with a high polyunsaturated fatty acid content, or sunflower, avocado or canola oil, or low-oil dressing.

Diet tips

  • Eat these low-fat foods in moderation and the fat cells will start to disappear.
  • Cut down on alcohol intake to save on kilojoules and lose weight fast. Stick to one glass of red wine or whisky per day.
  • Always read food labels to check how much fat a specific product contains.

Foods to avoid

  • Processed foods: read the labels and see how much fat they contain.
  • Food preparation methods that add fat to food, like frying. Sauces made from meat drippings and commercial dressings made with oil and eggs, e.g. mayonnaise (use low-oil dressings).
  • Processed meats such as polony, ham, bacon, sausages, pies and sausage rolls (use reduced fat meat products).
  • Cakes, pastries, biscuits, doughnuts, refined rusks and chocolate.
  • Hard or high-fat cheeses, e.g. gouda, cheddar, camembert and parmesan.
  • Full-cream milk products, ice cream and commercial puddings.
  • Coffee creamers, milk blends, cream, suet, lard.

Exercise

Burn up more energy by starting to exercise, but just check with your doctor first if you can participate in an exercise programme.

Regular brisk walking/running in the fresh air is probably the most pleasant and healthy form of exercise. Start gradually and increase how long and how actively you walk or run over a period of time. Enjoy.

If you prefer working out, or doing aerobics, join a good gym.

Regular swimming, cycling, tennis and squash are also excellent ways of increasing your energy output and firming the body

 
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Posted by on July 4, 2011 in Exercise & Food

 

History of Food in our Country

High incidence of hypertension

South Africans in general, and our black population in particular, are very prone to hypertension or high blood pressure. It is estimated that 24,4% of adult black South Africans suffer from hypertension and that this disease tends to be poorly managed due to a variety of factors. Consequently strokes and cerebral accidents are also common in this population.

Two major dietary factors that can influence hypertension are salt or sodium intake (which increases blood pressure) and potassium intake (which decreases blood pressure). The WHO recommend a sodium to potassium ratio in the diet of 1. In our black population the sodium intake is very high (up to 8 gram per day – compared to the recommended maximum of 6 gram per day), while potassium intake is very low (50-60 mmol/day). It is, therefore, understandable that South African black people struggle to achieve the sodium to potassium ratio of 1 as recommended by the WHO.

Dietary Changes

The Dash Diet has provided sound scientific evidence that eating plenty of fruit, vegetables and wholegrains together with moderate quantities of low-fat or fat-free dairy products, can improve potassium, magnesium and calcium intakes, while reducing sodium intake to acceptable levels to reduce blood pressure.

While more affluent members of our society can easily apply the principles of the Dash Diet, the less economically advantage sectors of our population tend to have low intakes of fruit, vegetables and dairy products because of outright poverty and consequent food insecurity.

The researchers, therefore, had to devise another plan to reduce the sodium intake and increase the potassium intake of their 80 black subjects. What they decided to do was to reduce sodium intake while increasing intakes of potassium, magnesium and calcium in commonly consumed foods.

The Solution

Bread, margarine, stock cubes, soup mix and a flavour enhancer with a lower sodium or salt content, and a 500 ml serving per day of maas (unflavoured sour milk) to 40 study participants for a period of eight weeks.

The 40 control subjects were given the same diet with a ‘normal’ salt content and 500 ml of artificially sweetened cold drink per day for the same period.

Results

After eight weeks, the average systolic blood pressure of the test subjects was 6.2 mm Hg lower than that of the control subjects. Other blood pressure results such as average systolic and diastolic bp measured by a 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitor were on average up to 4.5 mm Hg lower for the test group.

In the test group the sodium intake remained unchanged, while in the control group it increased by nearly 1 gram per day. The protective nutrient intakes improved dramatically; for example calcium intake nearly doubled, potassium intake increased by nearly 900 mg per day and magnesium intake increased by 84 mg per day in the study group. Keep in mind that these improvements in potassium, calcium and magnesium intakes were achieved without using mineral supplements.

Early History of Africa

The early history of man is the story of food in Africa. Homo sapiens evolved apart from other apes in Africa, and the adaptation of humans has been shaped by adaptations to diet . For example, some anthropologists believe that the selection pressure that led to bipedalism (walking on two legs) was an adaptation to changing environments that involved travel in search of tubers (rounded underground plant stems, such as potatoes). Africa’s history includes some of humankind’s earliest food production, with one of the most fertile centers located in Northern Africa, the Nile Valley. The Nile Valley historically was and continues to be a rich source of fish, animal, and plant food. In the drier African savannas, especially after the Sahara region became arid after 6000 B.C.E., nomad tribes raised cattle, goats, or sheep, which served as part of the tribes’ food source. Crops that were less affected by extreme weather like cereals (such as wheat, barley, millet, and sorghum) and tubers (such as yams) slowly became popular throughout the continent and have remained important staples in the African diet today.

The African Climate and Terrain.

The historic influences on the African diet began in ancient times and continue to the present day. Great geographic differences across the African continent caused much of the variety in the African diet. In addition, many tribes and peoples migrated or traded, bringing spices and foods from each other’s culture into their own. However, though each region of Africa has its distinct cuisines , African food has its basic staples.

The African Diet

Throughout Africa, the main meal of the day is lunch, which usually consists of a mixture of vegetables, legumes , and sometimes meat. However, though different meats are considered staples in many areas, many Africans are not able to eat meat often, due to economic constraints. Beef, goat, and sheep (mutton) are quite expensive in Africa, so these foods are reserved for special days. However, fish is abundant in coastal regions and in many lakes.

The combination of various foods is called stew, soup, or sauce, depending on the region. This mixture is then served over a porridge or mash made from a root vegetable such as cassava or a grain such as rice, corn, millet, or teff. Regional differences are reflected in variations on this basic meal, primarily in the contents of the stew. The greatest variety of ingredients occurs in coastal areas and in the fertile highlands. Flavorings and spiciness have varied principally due to local histories of trade. In the traditional African diet, meat and fish are not the focus of a meal, but are instead used to enhance the stew that accompanies the mash or porridge. Meat is rarely eaten, though it is well-liked among carnivorous (meat-eating) Africans.

Traditional Cooking Methods.

Traditional ways of cooking involve steaming food in leaf wrappers (banana or corn husks), boiling, frying in oil, grilling beside a fire, roasting in a fire, or baking in ashes. Africans normally cook outdoors or in a building separate from the living quarters. African kitchens commonly have a stew pot sitting on three stones arranged around a fire. In Africa, meals are normally eaten with the hands.

North Africa

The countries of North Africa that border the Mediterranean Sea are largely Muslim countries. As a result, their diet reflects Islamic traditions. The religion of Islam does not permit eating pork or any animal product that has

North African cuisine reflects the Islamic traditions of the region. Here, a man cooks with traditional Moroccan tajines, conical clay pots used for lamb stews and curries. [Photograph by Owen Franken. Corbis. Reproduced by permission.]

North African cuisine reflects the Islamic traditions of the region. Here, a man cooks with traditional Moroccan tajines, conical clay pots used for lamb stews and curries.

[Photograph by Owen Franken. Corbis. Reproduced by permission.]

not been butchered in accordance with the traditions of the faith. Like other regions of Africa, much of the diet is based on grains. However, cooking with olive oil, onions, and garlic is more common in the countries of North Africa. Notable spices include cumin, caraway, clove, and cinnamon. Flat breads are a common staple and can accompany any meal, including breakfast, which is usually porridge prepared from millet or chickpea flour. Couscous (made from hard wheat and millet) is often the main dish at lunch, which is the primary meal. This may be accompanied by vegetable salads. Other main dishes include tajine, named for the conical clay pot in which a whole meal is prepared. Lamb is cooked in tajines as well as on kabobs (roasted on a skewer). Vegetables include okra, meloukhia (spinach-like greens), and radishes. Common fruits are oranges, lemons, pears, and mandrakes. Legumes such as broad beans (fava beans), lentils, yellow peas, and black-eyed peas are also important staples. Alcoholic drinks are forbidden by Islamic tradition. Mint tea and coffee are very popular beverages in this region.

West Africa

Within West Africa, there is considerable variation in the staple food. Rice is predominant from Mauritania to Liberia and across to the Sahel, a region that stretches across the continent between the Sahara and the southern savannas. Couscous is the prevalent dish in the Sahara. Along the coast from Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) to Nigeria and Cameroon, root crops, primarily varieties of yam and cassava, are common. Cassava, imported from Brazil by the Portuguese, is boiled and then pounded into a nearly pure starch. Yam is the chief crop in West Africa and is served in a variety of dishes, including amala (pounded yam) and egwansi (melon) sauce. Millet is also used for making porridge or beer.

Biotechnology and Africa

Many scientists believe that biotechnology is the most promising route to fighting and possibly eradicating chronic malnutrition among the 800 million people in the developing world who live in poverty. Researchers are working to develop improved versions of African staples, including a strain of sweet potato that is resistant to a virus that regularly devastates the crop, cassava that is resistant to the cassava mosaic virus, and corn that is resistant to the maize streak virus. Also under development is cotton that is less susceptible to insect infestation. However, genetically modified crops are controversial in some African countries. Zambia has banned donations of genetically modified food, and Zimbabwe has raised concerns about donations of corn from the United States that is not certified to be free of genetic modifications.

—Paula Kepos

Palm oil is the base of stew in the Gambia, southern, and eastern regions. In the Sahalian area, groundnut paste (peanut butter) is the main ingredient for stew. Other stews are based on okra (a vegetable native to the rainforests of Africa), beans, sweet potato leaves, or cassava. Other vegetables are eggplant, cabbage, carrots, chilies, french beans, lettuce, okra, onions, and cherry tomatoes. All the stews in this territory tend to be heavily spiced, often with chilies.

West African Fruit.

Plantain, a variety of banana, is abundant in the more tropical West Africa. Sweet plantains are normally fried, while hard plantains are boiled or pounded into fufu. Dates, bananas, guava, melons, passionfruit, figs, jackfruit, mangos, pineapples, cashews, and wild lemons and oranges are also found here.

Protein Sources.

Meat sources of protein include cattle, sheep, chicken, and goat, though beef is normally reserved for holidays and special occasions. Fish is eaten in the coastal areas. Because of the Islamic influence, pork is localized to non-Muslim areas. In these regions, “bush meat” is widely eaten, including bush rat, a large herbivorous rodent, antelope, and monkey. Giant snails are also eaten in various parts of West Africa.

East Africa

Extensive trade and migrations with Arabic countries and South Asia has made East African culture unique, particularly on the coast. The main staples include potatoes, rice, matake (mashed plantains), and a maize meal that is cooked up into a thick porridge. Beans or a stew with meat, potatoes, or vegetables often accompany the porridge. Beef, goat, chicken, or sheep are the most common meats. Outside of Kenya and the horn of Africa, the stew is not as spicy, but the coastal area has spicy, coconut-based stews. This is quite unique in comparison to the central and southern parts of Africa.

Two herding tribes, the Maasai and Fulbe, have a notably different eating pattern. They do not eat very much meat, except for special occasions. Instead, they subsist on fresh and soured milk and butter as their staples. This is unusual because very few Africans consume milk or dairy products, primarily due to lactose intolerance .

The horn of Africa, which includes modern-day Somalia and Ethiopia, is characterized by its remarkably spicy food prepared with chilies and garlic. The staple grain, teff, has a considerably higher iron and nutrient content than other grain staples found in Africa. A common traditional food here is injera , a spongy flat bread that is eaten by tearing it, then using it to scoop up the meat or stew.

Southern Africa

Outside of the temperate zones , in the southern part of the continent, a greater variety of fruits and vegetables are available. Fruits and vegetables in southern Africa include bananas, pineapples, pau-pau (papaya), mangoes, avocadoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, and cabbage. Nonetheless, the traditional meal in southern Africa is centered on a staple crop, usually rice or maize, served with a stew. The most common dish made from cornmeal is called mealie meal, or pap in South Africa. Also known as nshima or nsima further north, it is usually eaten with stew poured over it. The stew may include a few boiled vegetables, such as cabbage, spinach, or turnips, or on more special occasions, fish, beans, or chicken.

Nutrition and Disease

White South Africans (Dutch descendants called Afrikaaners), Europeans, and Asian Indians in Africa have diets similar to their countries of origin. In urban areas, however, the diet of (black) Africans is increasingly dependent on meat, much like the diet of some West African pastoral tribes, as well as on empty calories from prepackaged foods similar to those found in the West. The result is an unbalanced diet. In many parts of Africa, the traditional diets of indigenous peoples are often inadequate in essential vitamins , minerals , and protein, which can lead to a variety of diseases. Micronutrient deficiencies, particularly vitamin A, iodine, and iron deficiencies, which can result in vision impairment, goiter, and anemia , respectively, are prevalent throughout much of Africa, particularly in the arid areas where the soil is deficient either naturally or due to overuse.

Food Security

A far greater threat comes from increasingly insecure food sources (a lack of consistent and affordable food staples) arising from adverse weather (drought and floods) and war. During the late 1900s, famine became increasingly frequent in Africa. In addition, a new threat to the food supply emerged due to the worsening HIV/AIDS epidemic. As adults fall ill and die, agricultural production declines. Rural communities are the hardest hit, and women are particularly at risk given their unique physiologic needs tied to their roles as mothers, as well as their vulnerability due to lower economic and social status.

With its immense population, resources, and growing population, Africa is a continent that struggles to keep its people and cultures healthy. African history, the proliferation of foods and spices across the land, and the preservation of land that can still be farmed, will continue to be important. Weather, geography, politics, culture, and religion are forces that have caused strife within Africa for centuries, and will continue to do so. A land that was once pure and fertile can only be restored through land preservation and food availability.

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Exercise & Food

 

Fat or not to be

South Africa is on its way to overtaking America as the world’s fattest nation. Almost half of South Africans over the age of 15 are overweight or obese, and medical researchers warn that the government may soon have to step in to manage the epidemic.

In 1998, 56% of women and 29% of men, aged 15 years or older in South Africa, were overweight or obese. These rates had not changed by 2003.

For men, the obesity rate was the highest in whites (18%), followed by Indians and coloureds (8%) and then by Africans (6%). For women, the differences among the groups were much smaller, with the highest rates in Africans (32%), followed by coloureds (26%), whites (23%) and then Indians (21%).

Urban people had higher weights than people who were living outside the cities, and some of the poorer South African provinces had high prevalence rates for overweight and/or obesity.

Raising an obese nation
Perhaps the most alarming, is the fact that 17% of children between the ages of 1 and 8 were overweight, and 5% were obese in 1999.

Studies indicate overweight children are highly likely to grow into overweight adults, most with a lot of potentially life-threatening problems in tow, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and even some forms of cancer.

Some children are experiencing such problems even before they reach adulthood. Doctors start to see type II diabetes (usually in adults) in overweight children.

Obesity brings other health problems
“Many chronic and potentially fatal diseases are all linked to obesity,” dietician Dr Ingrid van Heerden says. “If you are obese (i.e. body mass index – BMI – equal to or greater than 30), then the risk you run of developing heart disease, high blood pressure, a stroke, diabetes, cancer and psychological problems increases dramatically.”

It’s estimated that there are about 1.5 million South Africans with diabetes. In 2000, diabetes caused 3% of deaths in men and 6% of deaths in women 30 years and older.

Obesity can be the result of a number of factors, ranging from chemical imbalances and genetic factors to unhealthy lifestyle choices and modern living.

“South Africans are facing an explosion in obesity because such a large segment of our population is rapidly moving to the cities and adopting western eating habits,” says Dr van Heerden. “Cultural practices and advertising play an important role in making people regard foods as desirable even if they are ‘fatal’ for weight gain. I’m often amazed at the subtle connotations the advertisers use to seduce the public to buy all kinds of foods that are laden with fat and kilojoules.”

“If you are obese, then it’s vital that you take steps to remedy the situation as soon as possible,” says Dr van Heerden. “Losing weight and increasing your fitness will improve your medical condition significantly and may even save your life.”

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2011 in Exercise & Food