|Khulubuse Zuma, President Zuma's nephew|
MORNING classes had just begun in Pellsrus primary school in the Eastern Cape province when a nine-year-old pupil dropped dead from a heart attack in front of his classmates. He weighed around 115kg (a little over 250lb). His little heart could not cope any more.
Last month President Jacob Zuma’s larger-than-life nephew, Khulubuse Zuma, a mining magnate not yet 40, said he could not testify at an insolvency hearing into one of his gold mines because he was too ill with a heart disease owing to his weight and lavish lifestyle.
It is no longer just the inhabitants of the rich world whose waistlines are spreading dangerously. Though 40% of its 50m people live off less than $2 a day, South Africa has become one of the world’s fattest countries. Six out of ten South Africans are now clinically overweight or obese, according to a recent survey by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), a pharmaceutical company. So, apparently, are a quarter of teenagers and one in six children under nine. Another study, by London’s Imperial College, found as many as three-quarters of South African women to be overweight, up from 57% in 1980; it classified 43% as obese, up from 24% in 1980. Men are only a shade trimmer, with 62% reckoned overweight.
South Africans weigh in as the third fattest nation on earth
Seven out of ten South Africans in the GSK survey said they had never been on a diet. Half admitted they never took exercise, despite South Africa’s reputation as a sporty outdoors nation. One in eight suffers from diabetes. With private and public health care costing 9% of GDP, much more than in most poor countries, the government is starting to take fatness seriously, with campaigns to encourage healthier eating and to make sport compulsory in schools from January. An adviser to the health minister wants a “fat tax” on sweets and booze.
Courtesy: The Economist