Most overweight people are in denial, a local study revealed on Wednesday
"Around 78 percent of obese and 52 percent of morbidly (extremely) obese people in South Africa consider themselves to be healthy," said Graham Anderson from Profmed medical scheme - the company that conducted the study.
He said South Africa needed to highlight the issue as obesity week was from October 15-19.
"People who are overweight are not only more at risk of a number of serious illnesses, but may also be subject to higher medical insurance premiums," said Anderson.
According to the study, 61 percent of South Africans were either overweight or obese.
Another report from the Centre of Metabolic Medicine and Surgery (CMMS) stated more women suffered from obesity than men.
"Some 66 percent of women and 33 percent of men in this country are overweight and between 10 percent of men and 28 percent of women may be classified as morbidly obese," said Dr Tessa van der Merwe from CMMS.
She said about 2.2 billion people were overweight around the world and 500 million were considered to be obese.
"The problem is a global one, which is growing... Experts acknowledge the complicated nature of this disease and there is agreement that it is not just a case of excess calorie intake and diminished energy expenditure," she added.
Obesity came hand-in-hand with medical problems, such as type two diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, strokes, heart diseases, asthma, depression, and sleep problems.
"These conditions are responsible for a staggering 2.5 million deaths per year worldwide."
Van der Merwe said studies on the topic were being done on a continuous basis.
"The truth is that we do not entirely understand why some people are obese while others are not. We do know that contributory factors can include hereditary, environmental, cultural, socio-economic, and psychological factors."
She said weight-loss programmes were not entirely effective and less than five percent yielded success in the long-term.