Estimating the burden of disease attributable to physical inactivity in South Africa in 2000

  • J Joubert
  • R Norman
  • E V Lambert
  • P Groenewald
  • M Schneider
  • F Bull
  • D Bradshaw
  • South African Comparitive Risk Assessment Collaboration Grou


Objectives. To quantify the burden of disease attributable to physical inactivity in persons 15 years or older, by age group and sex, in South Africa for 2000. Design. The global comparative risk assessment (CRA) methodology of the World Health Organization was followed to estimate the disease burden attributable to physical inactivity. Levels of physical activity for South Africa were obtained from the World Health Survey 2003. A theoretical minimum risk exposure of zero, associated outcomes, relative risks, and revised burden of disease estimates were used to calculate population-attributable fractions and the burden attributed to physical inactivity. Monte Carlo simulation-modelling techniques were used for the uncertainty analysis. Setting. South Africa. Subjects. Adults ≥ 15 years. Outcome measures. Deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) from ischaemic heart disease, ischaemic stroke, breast cancer, colon cancer, and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Results. Overall in adults ≥ 15 years in 2000, 30% of ischaemic heart disease, 27% of colon cancer, 22% of ischaemic stroke, 20% of type 2 diabetes, and 17% of breast cancer were attributable to physical inactivity. Physical inactivity was estimated to have caused 17 037 (95% uncertainty interval 11 394 - 20 407), or 3.3% (95% uncertainty interval 2.2 - 3.9%) of all deaths in 2000, and 176 252 (95% uncertainty interval 133 733 - 203 628) DALYs, or 1.1% (95% uncertainty interval 0.8 - 1.3%) of all DALYs in 2000. Conclusions. Compared with other regions and the global average, South African adults have a particularly high prevalence of physical inactivity. In terms of attributable deaths, physical inactivity ranked 9th compared with other risk factors, and 12th in terms of DALYs. There is a clear need to assess why South Africans are particularly inactive, and to ensure that physical activity/inactivity is addressed as a national health priority.

South African Medical Journal Vol. 97 (8) Part 2 2007: pp. 725-731

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