Once common only in wealthy nations, obesity now is on an alarming rise in underdeveloped countries as well. Globally, obesity rates have doubled since 1980. The map of the world and graphs (source: Gretchen Stevens and Majid Ezzati, Population and Health Metrics) show the percentage of people that are overweight or obese in various countries. The map shows that six out of every 10 South Africans are overweight. The numbers in the yellow boxes indicate the percent increase since 1980. The graph shows obesity rates rising in men and women from 1980 to 2008 in selected countries. In 1980, ten percent of men in the United were obese. By 2008, thirty percent of American men were obese. In South Africa over the same time period, obesity in men went from 5% to 25%. Similar trends in other countries are evident.
Many people are in denial about the serious risks to their health due to their lifestyles and are too busy just trying to make it through each day. Even for those who are prepared to make changes there is so much conflicting information that it makes it difficult to know what to do. In South Africa, many of the Zulus that we work with are completely unaware that obesity poses any health risks at all.
We are updating our health builder training manual and presently expanding the sections on obesity and healthy eating. The training manual is being translated into Zulu. Health builders invite their family and neighbors to meet regularly to support each other and hold each other accountable as they work together to become healthier in mind, body and spirit. This can help people to succeed in improving their health despite the high odds of failure.