What’s In My Food


21 February 2019 – The Healthy Living Alliance (HEALA) is launching a campaign that asserts the right of every South African to know what is in the processed food we are eating, and calls on government to help us to do this.

The overall message of the #whatsinmyfood campaign is that South Africans have the right to know what’s in our food. The campaign aims to raise awareness and encourage dialogue among ordinary South Africans about the harmful contents of unhealthy food sold by the food and beverage industry.

There is a direct link between the excessive consumption of foods high salt, sugar and saturated fat and obesity and related non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, strokes, heart disease and some cancers.

Sbongile Nkosi, Executive Director at HEALA said: “The objective of the campaign is to get people to realise that a lot of the everyday processed food they are eating is unhealthy, and that there is a correlation between eating unhealthy food and poor health. We want everyone to begin to scrutinize the contents of their food, and particularly to cut down on foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat.”

According to a 2016 Lancet study, South Africa is the most obese nation in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 40% of women and 11% of men are obese and over two-thirds (69.3%) of women and 39% of men are overweight. Obesity is one of the top five risk factors for early death and disability in the country. In addition, 1.6 million South African children are considered obese and the condition is growing at a much faster amongst kids than adults1.

The study further reveals that obesity is linked to the development of chronic non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and strokes, which are among the top 10 causes of death in South Africa, accounting for 43% of deaths1.

“The availability of unhealthy food combined with aggressive marketing and advertising and incomprehensible food labels, disempowers the consumer from making healthy food choices,” said Nkosi.

“It is the responsibility of the food and beverage industry to clearly disclose the contents of the food they produce, market and supply to the public.

“We require government to create policies and laws to ensure that the food and beverage industry provides South Africans with the clear and accurate information they need to make better food choices for themselves and their families,” she added.

The campaign kicks off on 24 February with national television, radio and print advertisements that aim to alert ordinary South Africans that many of the foods that are part of their daily diets are high in sugar, salt and saturated fat. It and will run nationally for 6 weeks on TV, radio and print media.

Linked to the campaign is a microsite (www.whatsinmyfood.org.za.) that will feature simplified nutrition information on popular packaged foods and beverages, with a pledge for visitors urging government to put in place policies that call for clear food labels and hold industry accountable for the harmful ingredients in the food they supply.

People can support and benefit from the campaign by engaging in social media conversations using the #whatsinmyfood, visiting the microsite and taking the pledge at www.whatsinmyfood.org.za


For more information, please contact:

Thando Lamula
Communications and Advocacy Coordinator, HEALA
074 363 9271


HEALA is an advocacy group aimed at improving the health of South Africans and creating a healthier food environment for all by empowering South Africans to make healthier food and lifestyle choices to prevent non-communicable diseases.

Facebook: Healthy Living Alliance – HEALA
Twitter: @heala_SA


  1. NCD Risk Factor Collaboration (NCD-RisC). Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19·2 million participants. The Lancet. 2016; 387(10026): 1377-96)
  2. Pillay-van Wyk V, Msemburi W, Laubscher R, Dorrington RE, Groenewald P, Glass T, et al. Mortality trends and differentials in South Africa from 1997 to 2012: second National Burden of Disease.