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Obesity is a rising problem in South Africa with 68% of women and 31% of men in the country overweight or obese.
Obesity is a rising problem in South Africa with 68% of women and 31% of men in the country overweight or obese.

Are shoppers equipped to make healthy choices?


Issued by Corporate Image - Oct 18th 2018, 10:11

Obesity is a rising problem in South Africa with 68% of women and 31% of men in the country overweight or obese according to the South African Demographic and Health Survey.  

More alarming is that the World Health Organisation reported that approximately 13.3% of South African children under the age of five are overweight. Pick n Pay’s resident dietitian, Leanne Kiezer, says this is particularly worrying as overweight children run a high risk of remaining overweight into adulthood, further fuelling the country’s already high obesity levels.

Obesity is a largely preventable condition, and National Obesity Week, taking place from 15 – 19 October, provides a platform to raise awareness for nutrition and healthy food choices.

While the Department of Health has introduced regulatory measures such as the sugar tax to decrease levels of obesity in South Africa, in reality, this problem will not be solved unless consumers are better informed to make better choices, which will result in a change in consumer behaviour.

Kiezer says that many retailers have responded positively to the problem and have introduced product lines that help consumers make healthier food choices, including those with reduced sugar, salt and saturated fat, as well as offering a greater range of fruits and vegetables.

“Our Smart Shopper data shows that 83% of our customers feel it’s important that their family eats healthily. This saw us launch the PnP Live Well brand in 2016 with products containing less sugar, salt and saturated fat while encouraging a better balance of protein, fibre and good-quality carbohydrates.”

But, in addition to making healthier foods available on the market, she says that retailers have an important role to play in educating customers on good nutrition to encourage healthier eating habits.

“Customers need to be equipped to make healthier food purchases even when there isn’t an obvious choice available, such as a Live Well product. Guideline Daily Amount (GDA) front-of-pack labelling detailing nutritional elements are a good start to help shoppers make a better choice. Customers should start actively using the information already made available to them on the product label.”

She also encourages shoppers to sign-up to healthy reward programmes. “Not only do these regularly educate members on tips to follow a healthy lifestyle, but research shows those who participate increase their vegetable and fruit intake and consume fewer foods high in sugar, fat and salt due to the incentives these programmes offer,” says Kiezer.

No matter who you are, you can change your lifestyle and adopt healthy eating habits, says Kiezer. “Your weight management goals are only a few active steps away. Take the first one today – whether it is learning to interpret a food label to equip yourself to make healthier choices, committing to eating breakfast every morning, or making water your number one beverage of choice at the expense of other sugary drinks.” concludes Kiezer.


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