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An in-depth study undertaken by the Chronic Diseases Initiative in Africa (CDIA) and the Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle Unit of the Medical Research Council (MRC) in partnership with the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSF) and Pharma Dynamics has revealed the alarming misconceptions and unhealthy eating habits of many South Africans.
Research with focus groups from four different provinces has revealed that few households alter their diet after a family member is diagnosed with a chronic disease. Anniza de Villiers, senior scientist at the MRC, who led the research says, “Although many are aware of the role a healthy diet plays in the management of chronic diseases because healthcare practitioners give them this information at the time of diagnosis, fewer than 5% of respondents knew about the link between diet and preventing chronic disease.”
Currently about 195 South Africans die every day from CVD and according to forecasts by researchers at the United Nations, deaths among South Africans aged between 35 to 64 from cardiovascular disease, will increase by a staggering 40% by 2030. The condition is linked to a diet high in animal protein, saturated fat, salt and sugar and low in fruit, vegetables, fibre and unrefined carbohydrates.
The focus groups formed part of a larger research project called “Putting Prevention into Practice” which is being undertaken by the CDIA and will be used to inform the content of a new, healthier-eating recipe book, called Cooking From The Heart. The book aims to help South Africans cut the salt, fat, sugar and kilojoules from some of their favourite recipes.