According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa, 80% of heart diseases and strokes that happen before the age of 70 years can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and treating conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Given the fact that the lifestyles of South Africans are steadily becoming unhealthier, how do you break this unhealthy trend?
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of South Africa reports:
- 68% of women and 31% of men are overweight or obese
- Up to 45% of adults suffer from high blood pressure
- 37% of men and 7% of women are regular smokers
- Nearly 1 in 2 women and over 75% of men are physically inactive
- Most South Africans eat a diet high in processed meat, salt, sugars, deep-fried foods, refined starches, and do not eat enough fruits and vegetables
- Over 50% of children do not take a lunch box to school.
If you believe that you are overweight, you can check your BMI (Body Mass Index) yourself.
- Divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in metres)
- Now divide this number by your height (in metres) again.
If your BMI is:
- Less than 18.5 you are underweight and may need to gain weight
- 18.5 to 24.9 means that you are a healthy weight range. Keep it up!
- 25.0 to 29.9 suggests that you are overweight so try to lose some weight or as a minimum, try to stay in this range.
- 30.0 to 35.0 indicates that you are obese. Losing weight could be a priority for you.
- 35.0 places you firmly in that unhealthy category, ‘very obese’. Visit your doctor for a health check as you might need some help in managing your weight and health.
A 2016 article by the Harvard Medical School points out however that your BMI is a measure of your size and a low score does not necessarily mean that you are the picture of good health. For example, a person with a low BMI could be a heavy smoker and therefore at a higher risk of cardiovascular death than a non-smoker with a higher BMI.
If you are really serious about being healthier in 2019, think about getting a complete assessment of your health by talking to your pharmacist or seeing your doctor. They can check areas such as your cholesterol, blood pressure and sugar level. If you are a smoker, they can help you to quit the habit. If more physical activity is called for, let your doctor give you some advice regarding how to start out.
Whatever you do, there is still time to make a solid start to a healthier 2019!