That sugar class

30 October 2015

Words: Beverley Houston | Photos: ABC Library

The average South African consumes 25 kilograms of sugar and similar sweeteners a year; this is according to a groundbreaking study released by the Human Sciences Research Council. To raise awareness around sugar consumption and its link to obesity, Adventure Boot Camp hosted a sugar class. Held during Obesity Awareness Week in October, the class incorporated items containing large amounts of sugar into the hour-long exercise routine.

That sugar class

“We wanted to demonstrate just how much 25 kilograms is, so the best and most effective way to drive home a message is through visual demonstration,” says Adventure Boot Camp trainer, Jason Barnard. “Getting fit and healthy is not just about exercise. The age old mantra ‘you are what you eat’ is very much part of our brand philosophy. Using sugary items as weights drove home that message in a clever and very effective way.”

Obesity in South Africa has increased seriously, especially among females. Ten years ago, 27% of the female population was said to be obese. Today, that figure is more than 39%, which is five percentage points higher than the global obesity average. In addition, the Human Sciences Research Council’s study found that 20.2% of South African males and 68.2% of females had a waist circumference that placed them at risk of metabolic complications.

“Our female-only classes are very much health and lifestyle orientated. Over and above introducing a regular exercise routine, we also provide a nutritional meal plan for the women attending the month-long camps,” says resident Adventure Boot Camp nutritionist Kim Hofmann.

“Our biggest hurdle is changing mindsets and educating people around the risk of preventable lifestyle diseases. Attending an exercise class, one, three or five times a week is a good start, but to be truly effective, it needs to be coupled with a healthy and sustainable eating plan,” says Hofmann.

A high sugar intake is associated with the development of chronic conditions, such as obesity and diabetes. According to a study published in medical journal, the Lancet, South Africa has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa; seven out of ten women and four out of ten men have significantly more body fat than what is deemed healthy.

“Obesity increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis and chronic kidney disease,” says Hofmann. “The sugar class, which on the surface appears to be light hearted, drives home a very strong message around sugar and its direct link to obesity and lifestyle diseases. Ultimately it’s about becoming a conscious consumer – read food labels, be aware of what you are eating and minimise your sugar intake by making healthier decisions.”

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