South Africa’s pot bellies, love handles and muffin tops rank third highest in the world and Witsies could be adding to that statistic.
A GlaxoSmithKline survey found South Africans to be “the third fattest people in the world.” The study’s findings indicated that up to 2/3 of women are obese and 61% of people are overweight.
Witsies find it tough to uphold healthy eating habits and fit exercise into their University lifestyles.Students feel healthy eating isn’t encouraged on campus and university life contributes to an unhealthy lifestyle.
With the lack of time, piles of homework and easy accessibility to affordable, “fatty” campus foods, Mathapelo Nyiphi, a 2nd year BA student, says she “gained weight after high school.”
Many students have a full timetable which may sometimes offer the odd free period but still find no time to exercise. 2nd year fine arts student, Aneesah Shaikjee, is comfortable with what she eats and feels she has a good idea of what her limits are but finds it difficult to find time to exercise.
“If you call walking around campus exercise, then I do it, “she joked. A sentiment a lot of students take comfort in as they sometimes have to walk across campus for different classes. She also takes the stairs instead of the lift to fit exercise in.
Experts say the leading contributors to an unhealthy lifestyle are bad eating habits, the consumption of unhealthy foods, lack of sleep and stress.
“Leading a sedentary lifestyle and a bad diet will increase your weight and waist line,” said Faaiza Paruk, a registered Johannesburg dietician. While genetics do play a role in being overweight or obese, she said an unhealthy lifestyle triggers it into action.
She felt that if government introduced better lifestyle lessons in schools then students would be better equipped in making the right choices once they move from home to university. A Wits Star School student, Kwenele Sithole agreed but also felt healthy foods should be more affordable.
Paruk encourages students to pack lunches and plan meals in order to stay away from the easier but fattier options the University offers. Wits University offers gym services and a variety of sports and some students wake up an hour earlier to fit an exercise routine into their schedule.