Original Research

Die Voedingstand van die Suid-Afrikaanse Bevolking

J.P. Kotzé
Curationis | Vol 1, No 2 | a187 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v1i2.187 | © 1978 J.P. Kotzé | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 September 1978 | Published: 25 September 1978

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J.P. Kotzé, Departement van Gesondheid, South Africa

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During the period 1970 to 1975 the world population grew at an average annual rate of 1,98%. At presentthe estimated world population is 4,2 milliard (4,2 x 109). Food production has the formidable task of feeding85 million extra mouths per year.A recent United Nations document stated that during 1974 already about 500 million people suffered fromsome form of malnutrition. Of these about 100 million children under the age of 5 years were malnourished.According to the Gomez classification, which is accepted by the World Health Organization, first degreeprotein-energy-malnutrition (PEM) is present in children who have body weights between 75 and 90% of theexpected weight for age and sex. Children with body weights between 60 and 75% of the expected weight forage and sex suffer from second degree PEM (moderate). Third degree PEM (severely malnourished) is foundin children who reached 60% or less of the expected body weight for age and sex or suffer from oedema.Data are presented for the incidence of malnutrition in Africa and other parts of the world.South Africa and its newly independent territories have a total population of 27,2 million for whom 122,111million hectares of land is available. A hundred million hectares can be used for agricultural purposes andonly 15% of this land is arable.South African food production managed to remain comfortably ahead of population growth over the pastfew decades. At present at least 25 210 kilojoules/capita/day and 146,9g protein/capita/day are available forevery citizen. Despite such an enviable food position we have a considerable problem of malnutrition in SouthAfrica. Firstly, obesity is endangering the health of a fair portion of all ethnic groups. Secondly PEM andvitamin deficiency diseases are frequently diagnosed in the lower socio-economic groups. During 1976 286district surgeons reported 48 783 cases of kwashiorkor, 37 855 cases of pellagra and 1 008 cases of beri-beri.Although some of these diagnoses are unreliable, such figures do give a rough estimate of the extent ofmalnutrition in South Africa. These figures indicate that less than 3% of the population under the age of 5years suffer from kwashiorkor, pellagra and beri-beri.The applicability of the Boston standards to other populations is questioned. It is indicated that thesestandards give false high values for PEM amongst obviously obese South African Indians.The compilation of specific sets of standards for the South African population is suggested.


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