NWU contributes to health grading of SA’s youth

Marelize Santana -- Wed, 05/24/2017 - 16:54

NWU contributes to health grading of SA’s youth

Children in South Africa are still in trouble. This became evident during the launch of the Healthy Active Kids SA Report Card (HAKSA) in Johannesburg on Wednesday 24 May. The report card is spearheaded by Discovery Health and the Sport Science Institute of South Africa, with the NWU playing a major role in the drafting thereof.

The expertise of Prof Andries Monyeki and Prof Anita Pienaar, both from the research entity Physical Activity, Sport & Recreation (PhASRec), and Prof Salomé Kruger from the Centre of Excellence for Nutrition (CEN), especially came in handy.

Obesity among children is on the rise with 25% being overweight and 10% being obese. In addition, physical activity as well as physical fitness is declining with more than 50% of children falling under the accepted levels. Another point of concern is that more than 80% of South African children are consuming fatty food and sweetened beverages.

South African children received an overall C rating (40%-49%), which indicates that some success has been achieved with regard to the implementation of healthy active lifestyles in half of the South African population younger than the age of 17.

This is, however, not enough.

There report card uses a six-level rating scale (A, B, C, D, F, I), and reflects the best available scientific evidence about physical activity and healthy eating in South African children and young people gathered during the last five years.

It also builds on the evidence gathered for previous report cards in 2007, 2010 and 2014. The report also analyses whether children and the youth are meeting the recommendations and attempt to set out the factors that contribute to making healthy choices easier. It also provides nine physical activity indicators, which includes overall physical activity level, organised sport participation, active and outdoor play time and fruit and vegetable intake.

The report shows that fast food intake continues to rise and that the fast food industry is growing at a rapid rate. The past five years saw an increase of 10 million in the number of people consuming fast food in a month and the average adolescent consuming fast food 11 times a week.

On a positive note, it does seem as if national school nutrition programmes are proving to be effective.

Prof Andries Monyeki.   Prof Anita Pienaar.