Cape Town comes out tops as the healthiest city in South Africa — survey

If you live in Cape Town you are more likely to be healthier and leaner compared to those who live in Gqeberha, while living in Johannesburg is associated with being fitter and more active than Capetonians.  

According to the latest Discovery Vitality “obecity” survey, Cape Town came tops for maintaining healthy weight, followed by Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria. Bloemfontein and Gqeberha had the unhealthiest weight at position five and six respectively. 

Of the 300,000 Vitality checks completed in South Africa in 2022, Cape Town also had the highest percentage of people buying healthy foods, followed by Johannesburg, while Pretoria had the least. 

On the other hand, Johannesburg had more active people than any other city.

Cape Town had the least active people. 

The survey, released for the third time on Tuesday, also revealed that South Africa is fast becoming a nation battling with weighty issues, with one in every two adults considered overweight.

Discovery Vitality CEO Dinesh Govender said the latest survey highlights possible solutions to weight challenges, not only to Vitality members, but for all South Africans.  

“The health risks associated with excess weight account for almost 3-million lives lost worldwide each year.

“This [survey] will go a long way towards achieving our core purpose of making people healthier using behavioural, clinical and actuarial science to encourage positive behaviour change for the long term,” he said. 

“Globally, research shows good nutrition and physical activity are important for managing weight. That is why we also analysed members’ physical activity and food purchasing data to give us insights into our members’ exercise and eating habits.”

The index showed 68% of women are either overweight or obese while 31% of men fall in this category. It also showed about 13% of children under the age of five are either overweight or obese. 

The survey also suggested stress and not sleeping enough are some of the biggest contributors to weight gain among South Africans. While eating too much energy-dense foods and being inactive has been blamed for many South Africans becoming large, other contributory factors are

  • misleading food packaging labels;
  • rising cost of living; and
  • use of medication with weight gain as side effects. 

“The obesity epidemic is a global challenge that is on the rise and, as a nation, we have one of the highest rates worldwide — more than half of South African adults are overweight or obese,” Govender said. 

“Maintaining a healthy weight is important for good health as it helps prevent and manage health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease or high blood pressure.”

To enable more people to reach and maintain a healthy weight, Vitality has launched the Vitality HealthyWeight programme with the goal of supporting members who face greater health risks from being overweight or obese.  

From grocery shopping to cooking and meal preparation to the psychology of eating behaviour, members will gain from the programme through encouragement and personalised support five days a week to help them achieve their weight goals. 

“We’ve also built incentives into the programme, because we know this works to nudge people towards good health. We want to see good health outcomes for those in our care and create positive behaviour change for the long term. It is not about fad diets and unhealthy methods for quick weight loss … but will enable sustainable, healthy weight loss for those who require it.”


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