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From UCT to Rhodes

Date Released: Mon, 19 October 2015 12:46 +0200

MSc candidate Sandra Remsing reports on the visit:

Prof Goedecke began the series by presenting on the ethnic disparities in obesity and cardio-metabolic risk in black and white South African women, where the complexity associated with risk classification amongst different racial groups was explored. Here, the specific focus centred around the high prevalence of non-communicable diseases in black South African populations, primarily attributed to an ever-increasing obesity prevalence country wide (currently at 40% of South Africans).

One of the take-home messages was that the metabolic syndrome may not a good marker of risk in black women; rather, individual risk factors should be assessed in accordance with racial-specific vulnerabilities. As an example of a racial-specific vulnerability, it was suggested that gluteal fat deposits, (typically viewed as favourable to central fat deposits when looking at cardiovascular disease risk), may be less favourable in black populations than white populations. It was stressed that more research into the health status of South African populations was needed in order to gain further insight into the epidemic.

Individual risk factors should be assessed in accordance with racial-specific vulnerabilities

Dr James Brown followed with a different theme, discussing the severity of injuries in Rugby, as well as the effectiveness of intervention research. In particular, the efficacy of the ‘BokSmart’ program was explored, as well as the complexities associated with assessing its effectiveness.

Thereafter, Prof Goedecke returned to discuss the impact a 20% sugar tax may have as a proposed intervention method of obesity management in South Africa. Despite the efficacy in theory, this type of approach was suggested to be limited due to the economic disparities within South Africa. Additionally, parallels were drawn between of this type of approach and similar approaches New York, where the attempt to reduce the serving size of sugar-sweetened carbonated sodas at fast-food outlets was negated.

Individual variation?

Lastly, Prof Goedecke discussed her research on high-fat feeding for endurance and ultra-endurance performance, and highlighted the inter-individual differences regarding macronutrient intake on performance. A major finding of this research was that some athletes performed better on high-fat diets, while others performed better on high-carbohydrate diets. Additionally, some athletes responded favourably to high-fat feeding for six days, and one day of carbo-loading. 

P‌rof Candice Christie (HKE) with Dr James Brown and Prof Julia Goedecke (UCT)