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Childhood obesity is of increasing concern in South Africa, and interventions to promote healthy behaviours related to obesity in children are needed. Young children in urban low-income settings are particularly at risk of excess adiposity. The current study aimed to describe how parents of preschool children in an urban South African township view children’s movement and dietary behaviours, and associated barriers and facilitators.
A contextualist qualitative design was utilised with in-depth interviews conducted in the home setting and analysed using reflexive thematic analysis. Field notes were used to contextualise findings.
Four neighbourhoods in a predominantly low-income urban township.
Sixteen parents (fourteen mothers, two fathers) of preschool-age children were recruited via preschools.
Four themes were developed: children’s autonomy and the limits of parental control; balancing trust and fears; the appeal of screens; and aspirations and pressures of parenthood. Barriers to healthy behaviours included children’s food preferences, aspirations and pressures to consume unhealthy foods, other adults giving children snacks, lack of safe places to play, unhealthy food environments and underlying structural factors. Facilitators included set routines, the preschool environment, safe places to play and availability of healthy foods.
Low-income families in Soweto face many structural challenges that cannot easily be addressed through public health interventions, but there may be opportunities for behavioural interventions targeting interpersonal and organisational aspects, such as bedtime routines and preschool snacks, to achieve positive changes. More research on preschoolers’ movement and dietary behaviours, and related interventions, is needed in South Africa.
The study aimed to investigate the relationship between physical activity, gross motor skills and adiposity in South African children of pre-school age.
High-income urban, and low-income urban and rural settings in South Africa.
Children (3–6 years old, n 268) were recruited from urban high-income (n 46), urban low-income (n 91) and rural low-income (n 122) settings. Height and weight were measured to calculate the main outcome variables: BMI and BMI-for-age Z-score (BAZ). Height-for-age and weight-for-age Z-scores were also calculated. Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometers were used to objectively measure physical activity; the Test of Gross Motor Development (Version 2) was used to assess gross motor skills.
More children were overweight/obese and had a higher BAZ from urban low-income settings compared with urban high-income settings and rural low-income settings. Being less physically active was associated with thinness, but not overweight/obesity. Time spent in physical activity at moderate and vigorous intensities was positively associated with BMI and BAZ. Gross motor proficiency was not associated with adiposity in this sample.
The findings of this research highlight the need for obesity prevention particularly in urban low-income settings, as well as the need to take into consideration the complexity of the relationship between adiposity, physical activity and gross motor skills in South African pre-school children.
A higher tolerance for a larger body size has been associated with obesity in black South African (SA) women. The aim of the present study was to explore perceptions regarding body size and weight loss in a sample of black women from a low-income community in Cape Town, SA.
Qualitative pilot study including five focus groups. Data were analysed using thematic analysis.
Khayelitsha, Cape Town, SA.
Twenty-one black SA women.
The majority of participants had positive perceptions of overweight/obesity, which were influenced by community and cultural perceptions, but some inconsistencies were observed as overweight/obesity was also associated with ill health. Participants identified many benefits to weight loss, but due to the association with sickness, they were concerned about being stigmatised in their community. Although participants had knowledge about healthy eating, the main barrier to eating healthily included the perceived higher cost of healthier food and food insecurity. All participants saw exercise as a strategy to lose weight and improve health, and were interested in participating in a community-based exercise intervention, but negative community perceptions and conflicting views regarding who should lead the intervention were identified as barriers.
These findings highlight the complexities surrounding participants’ perceptions regarding body size, weight loss and weight-loss interventions, and emphasise low socio-economic status as a barrier to change. The study also highlights the strong influence of cultural ideals and community perceptions on personal perceptions. These findings underscore the necessity for culturally appropriate weight-loss interventions in low-income, transitioning communities.
To identify and describe factors associated with food shop (known as tuck shop in South Africa) and lunchbox behaviours of primary-school learners in South Africa.
Analysis of data collected in 2008 from a cross-sectional survey.
Sixteen primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa.
A total of 717 grade 4 learners aged 10–12 years.
A 24 h recall established that 69 % of learners carried a lunchbox to school and 49 % had consumed at least one item purchased from the school food shop/vendor. Most lunchboxes contained white bread with processed meat, whereas the most frequent food shop/vendor purchase comprised chips/crisps. Learners who carried a lunchbox to school had significantly lower BMI percentiles (P = 0·002) and BMI-for-age (P = 0·034), compared with their counterparts. Moreover, they were younger, had higher standard-of-living and dietary diversity scores, consumed more meals per day, had greater self-efficacy and came from predominantly urban schools, compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school. Learners who ate food shop/vendor purchases had a lower standard-of-living score and higher dietary diversity and meal scores. Only 2 % of learners were underweight, whereas 19 % were stunted and 21 % were overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2).
Children who carried a lunchbox to school appeared to have greater dietary diversity, consumed more regular meals, had a higher standard of living and greater nutritional self-efficacy compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school.