Obesity is affecting many South Africans, especially adult women and preschool children. This is putting them at risk for chronic diseases, such as heart disease and strokes, diabetes and some cancers. Some of the main reasons why people become overweight or obese are because they are:
• Eating large amounts of food (food portions);
• Eating high-energy foods that are high in sugar, fat and salt;
• Not eating a variety of food from the different food groups.
• Not engaging in regular physical activity

‘Eat Less – Choose Your Portion with Caution’

Message 1

Choose a variety of foods from different food groups and eat recommended amounts.

Eat a variety of foods at each meal, in other words include foods from two or preferably more food groups at each meal. This image indicates a balanced meal including foods from a variety of food groups. The portion sizes in each spoon indicate what a portion of each food or food group is; and the serving size of the meal represents a balanced meal for the average inactive female.
Message 2

Make portion control a daily way of life

Serve the correct portions of food onto individual plates, instead of putting serving dishes on the table. This will avoid being tempted by second or more helpings. These guides were developed for an inactive male and female that wants to lose weight (Male: 8 400 kJ per day; Female 6 500 kJ per day). These plans were chosen based on the objective of the campaign for this year: to teach individuals to downsize on portion sizes to beat obesity. Each ‘spoon’ indicates a portion of food; if two spoons appear on the meal grid / table, one should have two portions at that meal and the total number of spoons per day indicate the total amount of portions per group one should have, per day. The size of one portion of a food is explained at the bottom of the grid. Also refer to the ‘Meal and Snacks’ example page for images of house hold measures’ .

What is the difference between a portion and a serving / unit of food? Please see the answer at the Questions and Answers section of the National Nutrition Week Website
Message 3

Use salt and foods high in salt sparingly

Meals should not be high in sugar, fat or salt. Achieve this by not adding extra fat, sugar or salt to your food when cooking or by not buying ready-to-prepare or ready-to-eat meals. This image indicates foods high in salt that South Africans consume often. These foods should be used sparingly.

Use smaller plates, bowls and serving utensils

Many restaurants serve more food than is appropriate for one person. Control the amount of food that ends up on your plate by sharing a meal with a friend or asking the waiter to put half the meal in a “doggie bag” or “take away container”. Alternatively, when you eat out, order a salad and a starter as your main meal.

Use a smaller glass to limit the amount of drinks or beverages consumed at a time.


Stick to regular meal and evenly-spaced snack times and do not skip meals.


Choose healthier low fat, low salt snack options eg: air popped corn, fruit or plain yoghurt.


Snack foods that are bought in bulk should be portioned into individual-sized bags.