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Happy national nutrition and obesity week!

Sorry... nutrition and WHAT?

You may ask why, in this age of healthy-at-every-size and body positivity, is it still important to create awareness around obesity?

A person is classified as obese when their BMI (weight in kg divided by length in m squared) is 30 or higher, this is a STATISTICAL measurement, not a definitive limit over which you will be unhealthy. The human body is NOT black and white, but rather very grey when it comes to health.

Obesity is correlated with poor health outcomes, but doesn't definitively indicate poor health. It is used as a proxy for estimating risks for diabetes,  heart disease,  other diseases and loss of quality years of life. The reason for this is that obesity and poor health are both strongly associated with excess calorie intake, especially of processed foods, and low levels of physical activity and exercise. While it is possible to eat healthy food and be active and still be obese, this is statistically highly unlikely.

But the fact is, there is a strong correlation between obesity and poor health. This doesn't mean obese people should stigmatised or marginalised. It also doesn't mean they should go on diets to try and change their size. Campaigns like the national nutrition and obesity week are meant to remind us to eat healthy and be active. It is about promoting and celebrating health and a healthy lifestyle.

On a population level, growing obesity numbers equals increasing burden of disease. Promoting health to a nation would improve not only physical wellbeing, but also economic improvement, (less burden on healthcare system, less sick days, more productivity).

While I agree with promoting a healthy diet and lifestyle, I think the naming on this campaign can be improved to avoid stigmatisation and rather spread a positive message of hope and health. So maybe lets go back to calling it National Nutrition Week...

Here's to health in a beautifully diverse South Africa! 

PS. I will post some more info on the theme "make eating whole foods a way of life" soon!


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