Get The Facts: Childhood Obesity in South Africa.

Childhood obesity deserves your attention. It has increased ten fold since 1975. Find out how childhood obesity is linked to type 2 diabetes.

Get the facts.

Childhood obesity deserves your attention.

South Africa is just one of many countries in which childhood obesity rates have spiked over recent years. Governments and social institutions must take swift action to prevent an exponential increase of health problems in years to come. Already-burdened healthcare systems could completely implode at the rate of demand being projected presently. There is also the reality of tax implications and how the healthcare systems are to be funded as demand rises.

Global context

The prevalence of obesity in general has increased ten fold since 1975. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 650 million adults and 340 million children were recorded as obese in 2016.

Childhood obesity in South Africa

With the rise of urbanisation, comes the intensity of globalisation and industrialisation. Foods with higher calorie content, processed additives and preservatives are readily available to communities previously confined to subsistence produce and whole grains, predominantly. This means colourful sugary beverages are also easier to get a hold of.

Compounding the problem is the widespread decrease of physical activity. While ours is not the world’s worst situation, we have come close to being voted the unhealthiest nation by the Indigo Wellness Index. Our challenges with child health have doubled in frequency and severity in six years, largely due to parents battling weight-based health problems themselves.

Understand more about Diabetes and how to live a happy, healthy life as a Diabetic.

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The Link Between Childhood Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes

The development of Type 2 Diabetes is most often slow. Diagnosis may only be discovered during a child’s adolescent or teenage years. But the slow progression towards this diagnosis begins far sooner than most people realise. Type 2 Diabetes is often linked to obesity. Type 2 Diabetes occurs when your child’s body battles to produce insulin, which helps to process glucose. This leads to serious health complications, especially if left undiagnosed, untreated, and unmanaged. Leading a healthy lifestyle, while ensuring your child eats a well-balanced diet and regularly participates in exercise, can prevent the onset of Diabetes, and keep obesity at bay


All4Women. 2017. Childhood obesity: A wake-up call for parents. The Citizen. 13 October. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Amugsi, D. 2018. Research shows shocking rise in obesity levels in urban Africa over past 25 years. The Conversation. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2019. Childhood Obesity Facts. 29 April. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Diabetes Focus eMag. 2018. Obesity in children. 28 June. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Ground Up. 2014. South Africa’s childhood obesity “a huge problem”. The South African. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Health24. 2017. Alarming increase in childhood obesity over 4 decades. 18 October. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

NGO Pulse. 2016. Childhood obesity in South Africa. 13 October. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Okoye, CJ. 2018. SA facing obesity crisis as kids growing heavier than US counterparts. 15 August. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Rall, S. 2017. South Africa’s big fat obesity problem. Independent Online. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

State of Obesity. 2019. Childhood obesity trends. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

Van der Merwe, MT. 2012. Obesity in childhood and adolescence. The South African Medical Journal, 102 (5). Available online at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

World Health Organisation. 2018. Obesity and overweight. 16 February. Available at: [Accessed 9 September 2019].

We all have questions.

Below are some of the answers to the most common questions that you need to know.

Which is worse – Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetes?

“Worse” is a harsh comparison. The difference between these two types of Diabetes is that Type 1 requires insulin, and it never goes away. Type 2 requires consistent effort and can be managed over your lifetime.

What is the normal HbA1C level?

It is generally accepted that you should maintain HbA1C below 8%. The following guidelines are suggested by the South African Diabetes Association:


  • 4 – 6% Non-Diabetic range. 
  • < 7% Well-controlled Diabetic 7% – 8% Acceptable Diabetic control > 8% 
  • Poor Diabetic control needs attention.

What is the main cause of Diabetes?

Diabetes (Type 1) is usually a predisposed or genetically inherited condition. Diabetes (Type 2) is caused by lifestyle choices. Gestational Diabetes can be caused by either genetics or lifestyle choices.

What are the first signs of Diabetes?

  • Excessive thirst over a prolonged period.
  • Increased frequency in the need to urinate.
  • Significant weight loss or gain.
  • You find yourself fatigued, tired, and irritable, on a regular basis.
  • Open or ruptured wounds take a long time to heal.
  • Blurred vision.
  • Tingling sensations in your hands and feet.

Can you get life insurance if you have Diabetes?

Yes. AllLife can help you get up to R10million life insurance, as either a Type 1 or Type 2 Diabetic.

Can I test myself for Diabetes?

Although you can easily test your own blood glucose levels at any time, only your doctor, nurse, or clinic team can confirm a Diabetes diagnosis. This is because a series of specific tests are required for diagnosis.

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