South Africa's population is the most unhealthy in the world

02 May 2019 2 min. read
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Based on ten indicators of health, South African people have emerged as the least healthy population on the planet, according to new analysis from consultancy firm Bloomsbury Economics. At the other end of the spectrum, Canada emerged as the healthiest country on the planet.

South Africa has emerged at the wrong end of a number of indicators in recent years, having been placed as the country with the highest rate of economic crime in the world last year. The latest health assessment is based on data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), drawn upon by Bloomsbury Economics.

As per recent WHO data, the probability of succumbing to a range of illnesses – including cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory disease – amongst South Africans between the ages of 30 and 70 stands at 26%, while nearly 30% of the country’s population is obese.

Based on this data, Bloomsbury Economics rated countries across the globe on a scale of 0 to 1, using ten health indicators as assessment criteria. These include a healthy life expectancy, blood pressure, blood glucose, obesity, depression, happiness, alcohol yse, tobacco use, inactivity, and government expenditure on healthcare.

Bloomsbury Economics places SA as the unhealthiest country in the world

South Africa emerged as the most unhealthy country in the world based on these indicators. Healthcare has become an issue of particular concern in South Africa recently, as the slow economic growth has affected the affordability of healthcare in recent years. 

Experts from the public and private sector alike have been working to devise solutions for healthcare in the country, but the efforts are yet to produce tangible results. Amongst the range of indicators, obesity appeared to be the most prominent one, particularly amongst women in the country.

“Excess body weight is a massive problem, but not only in adults; 13% of South African children are overweight or obese which is more than double the global average of five percent,” said Alta Schutte, co-author of the study and professor at the South African Medical Research Council.

“We need to seriously look in the mirror and change the lifestyles we lead in order to safeguard the health of South Africans, especially for future generations who are already being negatively affected,” she added.