As South Africa’s National Nutrition Week came to an end recently, the Department of Health (DoH) urged South Africans to make a conscious decision to make water their Drink of choice. While this is a great idea, it was met with some scepticism from those living in the Western Cape which is experiencing such a devastating drought that the province is on level 5 water restrictions and the council has also just implemented water rationing.
The theme for National Nutrition Week 2017 was “Rethink your drink – choose water” and its aim was to get communities to understand that water is the healthiest choice to satisfy thirst and to drive the teaching of drinking water as a habit.
“What the campaign highlights is that when South Africans are not drinking water, we are probably choosing a sugar-sweetened drink which raises our daily kilojoule intake, degrades our diet and leads to weight gain and the onset of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dental caries,” says DoH Nutrition Director, Rebone Ntsie.
South Africa has extremely high rates of heart disease and diabetes, both of which it is believed could be due to drinking sugary carbonated drinks in favour of water.
Latest statistics on obesity and non-communicable diseases in the country are very troubling; among those that are really alarming is that 13.3% of children under the age of five are already overweight. The rate of obesity is also very high in adults, especially women.
“These findings show that obesity in children and adults is increasing. Replacing sugary drinks with water can help,” said Ntsie.
According to the CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), Professor Pamela Naidoo, those who consume excessive sugary drinks risk developing heart diseases.
“There is also a clear link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease,” she says.
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