November 23, 2015

Africa faces obesity epidemic

Obesity levels in Africa could soon be as high as those in Europe and North America, according to researchers behind a new anti-obesity initiative.

The African Centre for Obesity Prevention (ACTION), hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, aims “to prevent and manage obesity in Africa through evidence-based actions”.

Shane Norris, who is leading the new initiative, said: “Some countries are already experiencing quite high levels of obesity, others aren’t. [But] the trend is that more and more African countries, as they economically develop, will face obesity-related challenges.”

The growth in obesity is especially evident in South Africa, where 26.8% of the population is obese, at an estimated cost to the government of 23 billion rand (around €1.5 billion).

The World Health Organisation estimates that 12.7% of African children will be obese by 2020.

Susan Averett has written for IZA World of Labor about obesity and labor market outcomes. She writes that: “Obesity threatens to become an increasing burden on all taxpayers as a result of the associated higher medical costs, lower productivity and wages, and reduced probability of finding employment. Governments and employers have a compelling interest in finding ways to reduce obesity levels and discrimination against obese workers.”

Read more on this story at the Guardian.

Related article:

Obesity and labor market outcomes by Susan L. Averett

Find more IZA World of Labor articles about health