Last updated on Jun 23rd, 2021 at 04:05 pm

South Africa has been ranked as the most unhealthy country in the world in a survey of 150 countries…

South Africa scored a disappointing 23.33%, while Japan, ranked the healthiest country scored 79.02% . This according to a  study conducted by the insurance comparison website Compare The Market.

This is not the first time either the well respected Indigo Index found that South Africa at the bottom of its list.

What are we doing wrong? 

The unhealthiest countries according to the study

Is ‘healthy food’ too expensive for South African’s?

South Africa has frightfully high obesity statistics with 28.3% of South African adults considered obese. With the number of obese children also climbing. 

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The reason for South Africa’s high obesity rate is scarier than just people making unhealthy choices, several studies including  Professor of nutrition at Athabasca University, Norman J. Temple’s study on the cost of a healthy diet in South Africa. Like many before and many after him, Professor Temple found that many South African’s simply can’t afford healthy food.

“Energy-dense foods are relatively cheap sources of energy but typically have a low nutrient density. People with a low income may therefore select a relatively less healthy diet. The high energy density of such diets helps explain the association between obesity and low socioeconomic status,” says Professor Temple.

This is confirmed by the research done by the Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice & Dignity Group (PMBEJD) . 

“Tighter budgets have led to families having to make tough calls when it comes to grocery purchases. The research shows that mothers are having to prioritise core foods that satiate hungry stomachs, but don’t necessarily offer high-value nutrition.”

Read the article below for more details:

Family meals & finances – How skyrocketing grocery prices are affecting our kids’ nutrition

South African’s are dying at a younger age

The life expectancy for the average South African in just over 63 years old, lower than the pension age.

The survey also focused on deaths caused by cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory disease based on statistics provided by The World Health Organisation.

A previous study by WHO found that HIV and TB and the lack of medical attention for people in disadvantaged areas contributed to South Africa’s low life expectancy

We’re dying of a “good time”

Almost a year ago South Africa went under it’s hardest lockdown of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While the people in other countries rushed around madly buying up all the toilet paper they could, one of the top concerns for South Africans was access to alcohol and cigarettes. 

Even so, South Africa is not among the countries with the highest rates of drinking and smoking.

The study showed the following worrying results for South Africa:

  • Prevalence of current tobacco smoking – 31.4%
  • Alcohol consumption – 7.3 litres  (Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older)
  • Prevalence of obesity among adults – 28.3%

  • Prevalence of insufficient physical activity among adults – 38.2%

According to the study, these are the healthiest countries in the world

The healthiest countries according to the study


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