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Cultural perceptions fuel obesity in rural areas

LIMPOPO – Eating pap twice a day and drinking a lot of sugary drinks has contributed in Fhulufhelo Tshivhase (29), of Duthuni village, becoming overweight. It is something she now regrets.

“I believe that eating pap, meat and drinking two glasses of soft drinks twice a day has made me gain a lot of weight. We grew up being told that eating a lot of pap makes one grow healthy but I now think that we were being misled as a lot of pap is not good for one’s health,” said Tshivhase. In many households in the province, pap is the staple food.

“I have tried to use various products to help me lose weight, but nothing seems to be working. Now I have decided to cut down on pap and now only eat it once a week. I have replaced pap with a lot of vegetables and rice,” she said. To limit her weight gain, Tshivhase has decided to stop drinking sugary drinks and instead drinks water.

Myths

“In rural areas having a huge body is regarded as being fit. Being thin is normally associated with being sick, which is wrong, but it’s the myths we were made to believe while growing up. I only realised that my body weight was too much when I was working in Joburg. Many people I used to work with used to tell me to join the gym because I was over-weight. But here back at home my weight is regarded as normal,” she said.

Thembi Budeli, a professional nurse based at Thohoyandou Block G Clinic, said eating a lot of pap is one of the main reasons why a lot of people are becoming obese at a younger age.

“I normally encourage people to cut down on the amount of pap they eat daily. A person needs to balance the food they eat, while at the same time eating a lot of vegetables,” she said. – Health-e News.

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