Obesity: an economic risk for South Africa


We tend to think of HIV and TB as the greatest health risks in South Africa today – but non-communicable diseases are fast becoming the leading cause of death, according to Professor Andre Kengne, director: Non-Communicable Diseases Research Unit at the South African Medical Research Council.

A 2016 South Africa Demographic and Health Survey has found that 68% of women and 31% of men are overweight or obese.

What does this mean for our economy? A South African Medical Journal article says that obese workers cost their employers 49% more in paid time off than their non-obese colleagues – and the McKinsey Global Institute puts the global economic impact of obesity at around $2 trillion, which is similar to the cost of smoking or armed violence, war and terrorism.

Although medical aid schemes don’t risk-rate potential members according to obesity, life insurers do – depending on the level of obesity, loading can reach up to 200%. 

How can the obesity epidemic be addressed? Find out more in the October issue of RISKAFRICA magazine.  READ MORE