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Low levels of physical activity in female adolescents cause overweight and obesity: Are our schools failing our children?

Nelly N Mokabane, Mercy M Mashao, Marlise van Staden, Martin Potgieter, Annelize Potgieter

Abstract


The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity among female adolescents is a global health problem. In developing countries such as South Africa, this increase is often associated with urbanisation and the adoption of a Western lifestyle. Two aspects of the Western lifestyle that contribute to the development of overweight and obesity are a decrease in physical activity levels and an increase in the consumption of energy-dense food, high in fats and refined sugar. Information on the prevalence of increased body fatness in populations in transition is scarce, but necessary for effective planning and intervention. Current indications are that there is a trend towards unhealthy behaviour among high-school girls, globally and in South Africa. Schools can play an important role in the prevention of overweight and obesity among schoolgirls. It is recommended that school governing bodies institute remedial action to prevent weight gain in children, especially girls.


Authors' affiliations

Nelly N Mokabane, Department of Physiology and Environmental Health, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa

Mercy M Mashao, Department of Physiology and Environmental Health, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa

Marlise van Staden, Department of Physiology and Environmental Health, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa

Martin Potgieter, Department of Biodiversity, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, University of Limpopo, South Africa

Annelize Potgieter, Science Centre, University of Limpopo, South Africa

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Keywords

Fat; Chronic dseases of lifestyle; Obesity; School learners

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2014;104(10):665-667. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.8577

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-06-19
Date published: 2014-08-27

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