The week, themed “Rethink your drink – choose water”, was aimed at helping communities to understand that water is the healthiest choice to satisfy thirst and to drive the teaching of drinking water as a habit.

“What the campaign highlights is that when South Africans are not drinking water, we are probably choosing a sugar-sweetened drink which raises our daily kilojoule intake, degrades our diet and leads to weight gain and the onset of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and dental caries,” says DoH Nutrition Director, Rebone Ntsie.

There is also a clear link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease.

Ntsie says the prevalence of obesity and non-communicable diseases in the country is alarming, with latest statistics showing that 13.3% of children under the age of five are already overweight. The rate of obesity is also very high in women, even more so than in men.

“These findings show that obesity in children and adults is increasing.  Replacing sugary drinks with water can help,” said Ntsie.

Total daily energy intake

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the intake of free sugars should be less than 10% of the total daily energy intake for adults and children and less than 5% for further health benefits. 

CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa (HSFSA), Professor Pamela Naidoo, has warned that those who consume excessive sugary drinks risk developing heart diseases.

“There is also a clear link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease,” she says.

Ntsie argued that it makes good sense to replace sugary drinks with lots of water. Water contains no kilojoules and offers the best hydration. 

Watch a video by Health-e News on how to make water great here: