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  • Ultra-processed foods that are high in fats, sugar and/or salt contribute to obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Research has shown that even just one additional serving of ultra-processed food daily has been found to increase the risk of death from NCDs by 18 per cent.
  • Globalisation and trade liberalisation influence the prevalence in overweight and obesity. An analysis of food imports in 172 countries from 1994 to 2010 has shown that the level of sugar and processed food imports is significantly associated with a rise in average BMI.
  • The sales of ultra-processed products in the world increased by 43.7 per cent from 2000 to 2013.
  • The 2016 SADHS found that 68 per cent of women and 31 per cent of men in the country are overweight or obese. About 20 per cent of women and three per cent of men are severely obese.
  • Approximately 13.3 per cent of children younger than five years are overweight or obese which is more than double the global average of 6.1 per cent. The 2012 SANHANES showed that 14.2 per cent of children aged six to 14 years are overweight or obese.
  • In South Africa, from 1994 to 2012, there has been an overall increase in energy intake, sugar-sweetened beverages, processed and packaged foods, animal source foods, and added caloric sweeteners, while the consumption of vegetables actually decreased. In particular, the consumption of processed and packaged food, such as soft (sugary) drinks, sauces, dressings and condiments, and sweet and savoury snacks had the most drastic increase (>50 per cent).
  • The 2016 SADHS found that among respondents 15 years and older, the consumption of sugary drinks (including fruit juice) the day or night before the survey was 35.7 per cent, with an average volume of 607.2 ml. 36.5 per cent of respondents consume fried foods at least once per week.
  • The consumption of poor food and drink choices starts at an early age with 18 per cent of children age six to eight months consuming salty snacks and four per cent consuming sugary drinks the day or night before the survey. This increased quickly to 64 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively, of children aged 18 to 23 months. Children of this age (six to 24 months) should not be having any foods that do not contribute to their high nutrient needs.

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