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Mpilo Mahlangu

By: Mpilo Mahlangu


“Take Care”! Perhaps one of the most widely used sign-offs to an email or sms. Okay, maybe not so overly used but I’m sure the majority of us can assure to having received or used the term before. But how many of us take the time to process and appreciate what is meant by this? If my grammar serves me correctly, it implies some kind of an order. Perhaps not in the strictest sense but an order nonetheless. There seems to be a general expectation for one to exercise this agency. Now as obvious as that may sound, when we observe the increasing trend in GLOBESITY, one really must enquire, how well is the globe doing?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has recently reported diseases such as cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, and some cancers as being among the most common, costly and preventable (note the latter) of health  problems across the world; all of which are closely associated with obesityᴬ. Obesity is unfortunately a multifactoral and progressive disorder thus the scope of its management is quiet broad, a disorder greatly determined by lifestyle.  In our country the overall prevalence of obesity and overweight is reported at 29% for men and 56% for womenᴮ. Alarming. The frustrating question then is, “with all the things going on in my life, how do I ‘take care’?”

The key to management is to adopt a balanced approach between intake and use of energy. In no particular order, here are 5 practical ‘Take Care’ guidelines for students to curb weight-gain and in turn the risk of Non-Communicable Diseases.

1)    Keep your Body Mass Index (BMI) in check. BMI is a measure of your weight-for-height ratio. Thus checking your weight on a regular basis is essential for the BMI measuring.

BMI is defined as = weight/ (height*height).BMI values are classified as follows:

Underweight: <20

Normal Range: 20< BMI<25

Overweight: 25< BMI< 30

Obesity: >30ᴰ

2)    Adjust your food choices. Rather than trying to reduce quantity or skip meals, introduce a shift in the kinds of food you consume.  The notion here is a simple as grabbing a banana as opposed to a chocolate if you’re feeling a bit hungry in between meals. At meal times choose better foods. Here is a list of advised choices:

  • Select LOW GI (Glycemic index) foods.

Reason: while some of the glucose ingested is used as energy, the rest of it is stored as mainly fat tissue. Foods with favoured GI are: brown over white bread, vegetables and fruits with skin, flakes over muesli and proper pasta over two-minute noodles.


Reason: Unsaturated fats are easier to breakdown than saturated fats.

Thus the ‘Take Care’ choice will favour foods such as avocado, nuts, peanut butter, and vegetable oil over butter, red meat, biscuits, pies and crispsᴱ.

Of course some foods cannot be avoided due to constraints but the better choice is the favour you can afford your body. E.g.: Butter over margarine is the spread of choice and thick base over thin base when having pizza.

  • Monitor  Your Cholesterolᴱ


3)    Exercise is one of the best means of self care. Interestingly, it has been explained that main cause of globesity is not increased calorie intake but in fact reduced physical activity. Most of the time we’re desk-bound, use cars and remote controls.

The ‘take care’ guide is to exercise for at least 30 minutes on most days of the week.ᴱ Try strike an equilibrium between low-intensity exercise (which burns fat) and high-intensity exercise such as cardiovascular exercise (which is good for the circulatory system).


Exercise also releases Endorphins which are ‘feel good hormones’, therefore giving you and overall feeling of well being.

4)  Develop an effective way of managing your stress. Too often when under stress we tend to turn to food for comfort and avoided confronting situations. We should modify our reaction to stress. A ‘take care’ approach will include either eliminating or reframing stress. One could for example set time out to relax, go for a walk, talk to a friend, listen to good music or whatever it is you genuinely enjoy. Relaxation helps you to rechargeᴳ.

5) The last and personal favourite ‘Take Care’ guide is to laugh. Ha-ha yes laugh.  Solomon divinely revealed that a merry heart does good like medicine but a broken spirit dries the bones (Proverbs 17:22).

I find it noteworthy to mention that the WHO has officially described health as the, “The complete state of mental, physical, and social well-being…”ᴴ. This implies that a disturbance in any of these three components renders one unhealthy. While our spirit is sustained by the Word, we are not in any way excused from looking out for the body.

In that regard,

Take Care…



  1. http://www.who.int/topics/obesity/en/
  2. http://apps.who.int/bmi/index.jsp?introPage=intro_3.html
  3. http://www.lilabruk.co.za/the-healthy-blogger.htm
  4. ‘Obesity in South Africa’ in Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle in South Africa since, Julia H. Goedecke, Courtney L. Jennings, Estelle V. Lambert 1995 – 2005, Chapter 7, page 66.


H. http://www.who.int/en/

‘Obesity in South Africa’ in Chronic Diseases of Lifestyle in South Africa since, Julia H. Goedecke, Courtney L. Jennings, Estelle V. Lambert 1995 – 2005, Chapter 7, page 66.