OP-ED: Government must take steps to end hunger in SA

Last month we commemorated 25 years of the SA constitution – a document that was supposed to usher in a generation of South Africans living in dignity, equality and freedom.

However, we see a dangerous dualism in SA: while eight million children go hungry every day and a quarter of all children are stunted, we also see that one in eight children is overweight.

According to statistics, these children will grow into a cohort of adults where every second person is obese. Being overweight or obese is a well-known driver of diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

More than half of South Africans are dying of these diseases each year, which Stats SA has termed a “looming health crisis”. At first glance, the idea of a society where half of the population is overweight, while severe hunger persists seems dystopian, akin to the Hunger Games, where the rich gorge themselves and the poor fight to survive.


READ MORE: This World Obesity Day We Urgently Need To Confront The Scourge Of Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) In South Africa.


But the reality is that in individual households, both co-exist. Low income households are more likely to purchase energy dense, nutritionally poor food, which contributes to weight gain.

Strong evidence has emerged that food companies that sell low nutrition products target poorer families through marketing and retail outlet placement – the “double burden of malnutrition”.

Human rights are the idea that human beings are entitled to certain protections. After World War 2, the first modern international instrument setting out these rights was created – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This article was published on SowetanLive on the 4th of April 2024. Click HERE to read the full oped.