Parents can be instrumental in preventing teens/young adults from acquiring chronic diseases

Preventing chronic conditions in the youth of South Africa requires a multi-faceted approach that addresses underlying risk factors such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and unhealthy lifestyle choices.

By Cindy Pivacic.


Mental health disorders, including depression and anxiety, are prevalent among South African youth. A study conducted in 2016 found that one in four South African teenagers experience symptoms of depression, with risk factors including poverty, abuse, and poor living conditions.

Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and obesity are becoming increasingly common among South African youth. The prevalence of obesity among South African children aged 5-18 years is estimated at 20%. A lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating habits are major factors to this trend.

South African teens/young adults 15 – 24 years have the highest HIV infection rate, and females account for the majority of new infects among the youth of this age group.

Thirty-eight percent of new infections, was found amongst the youth aged 15 to 24-years. Females in this age group had the highest burden at 1.51% (95% CI: 1.31–1.71%) and accounted for the majority of new infections among youth. 01 Jul 2022 

Parents can play a critical role in preventing teens and young adults from acquiring chronic diseases by modelling healthy behaviours and providing guidance and support for their children.

  1. Modelling healthy behaviours: Parents can set a positive example for their children by making healthy choices themselves, such as eating a well-balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and not smoking or using other substances.
  1. Encouraging healthy habits: Parents can encourage their children to develop healthy habits, such as eating nutritious meals, engaging in physical activity, and getting enough sleep. These habits can involve setting rules and boundaries, such as limiting screen time, and encouraging regular meals, and providing opportunities for physical activity, such as sports teams or recreational programs.
  1. Providing education and support: Parents can provide their children with education and support to help them understand the risks and consequences of unhealthy behaviours, such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and drug use.
  1. Monitoring and addressing mental health: Parents can monitor their children’s mental health and address any emotional health issues arising, such as depression and anxiety, as mental health issues can lead to or worsen chronic conditions.
  1. Providing guidance for decision-making: Parents can provide guidance for decision-making and help their children navigate the challenges of adolescence and young adulthood, such as peer pressure, stress, and relationships.
  1. Encouraging regular check-ups and screenings: Parents can encourage their children to schedule regular check-ups and screenings with healthcare providers to identify and address any potential health issues before they become chronic conditions.

Overall, parents can be instrumental in preventing teens and young adults from acquiring chronic diseases by modelling healthy behaviours, providing education and support, and encouraging healthy habits and regular check-ups.

There is a variety of cover available to South African citizens from the age of 18 – 75 years.

A chronic condition can affect anyone. How you manage it is what makes the difference.

You can get cover of up to 3 million rand for your chronic health condition and up to 10 million if you are living with HIV.

SMS CHRONIC to 33857 to find out more. 

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Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational purposes only.

It is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure, and is not a substitute for professional consultation with a health professional.


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