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Check your health: Discovery Vitality research emphasises the prevalence of obesity and shows people are not screening enough

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Check your health: Discovery Vitality research emphasises the prevalence of obesity and shows people are not screening enough

Johannesburg, 7 March 2024 – Insights revealed today by Discovery Vitality in a new white paper study emphasise the critical role of health screening in early detection of cardiometabolic diseases. An analysis conducted across South Africa between 2019 and 2023 has several key findings. Firstly, health screening rates are lower than they should be, obesity was the most common health risk in 2023, and high-risk members who complete a Vitality Health Check are more likely to register for treatment of chronic conditions within three months of their first screening – by 11 times.

Dr Mosima Mabunda, Head of Wellness at Discovery Vitality says: “Across the globe, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes are leading causes of death, disability, and poor health. Alarmingly, nearly half of adults living with hypertension or diabetes are unaware that they have these conditions. Powerfully, our most recent analysis demonstrates the effectiveness of screening to access appropriate treatment.”

Globally, in 2022, cardiovascular disease caused 19.8 million deaths and, in 2019, diabetes mellitus was the leading underlying, natural cause of death in South Africa, contributing to more than 26,000 deaths. As many people are not aware they have these conditions, it means they don’t receive care which increases the risk of the disease progressing.

“A simple way to address this, is through health screening. However, screening rates are lower than they should be. Six out of 10 Vitality members have not completed a health screening in the past three years. We hope to change this,” says Dr Mabunda.

Vitality has been a leader in incentivising preventive healthcare since 1997, offering clinically validated assessments to help Vitality members assess their health status. A Vitality Health Check, is a set of essential screenings to help identify cardiometabolic disease risks across five measures: waist-adjusted body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, blood glucose, blood cholesterol and smoking status – through these screenings, people gain the knowledge they need to manage their health.

The analysis compared data from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Durban, Bloemfontein and Gqeberha – and showed Johannesburg had the lowest overall percentage of members with at least one high-risk health outcome, including the lowest percentage of members with high-risk weight status and blood cholesterol results. Meanwhile, Vitality members in Gqeberha had the highest overall percentage of risks for cardiometabolic diseases, driven by high-risk weight status, blood pressure, and smoking status. Durban had the lowest percentage of smokers but the highest percentage of high-risk blood glucose and blood cholesterol.

Additional insights from the analysis include:

  • Obesity continues to be prevalent – members aged between 40 and 64 years recorded the highest percentage of high-risk weight status (32% higher relative to members aged between 18 and 39). 73.8% of Vitality members with at least one high-risk outcome had either weight status, or weight status and other high-risk outcomes.
  • 30.1% of Vitality members with at least one high-risk outcome had either smoking alone or smoking and other high-risk outcomes.
  • The highest increases in high-risk outcomes were recorded among female Vitality members.
  • Vitality members who completed their Vitality Health Check in 2023 exercised 72% more than Vitality members who did not complete a health screening.
  • Vitality members who completed their Vitality Health Check in 2023 also bought 19% more healthy foods, compared with Vitality members who did not complete a health screening.

Dinesh Govender, CEO of Vitality says that with these insights, Discovery Vitality aims to elevate awareness of the importance of screening.

“The positive health and cost outcomes among Vitality members who have regular health screenings are associated with healthier lifestyle choices following a health screening. Regular health screening creates an understanding of health risks and knowing the next action in managing our health,” adds Govender.

Dr Mabunda says encouraging health checks is associated with engagement in lifestyle behaviours and linkages to much-needed care to manage the possible chronic conditions.

She concludes:“With the growing burden of cardiometabolic risks globally, we need a renewed focus on prevention, treatment, and control strategies. Health screening has significant cost saving implications for healthcare systems. The data in our analysis is clear, health screening is an essential step towards knowing how we start to address the high rates of cardiometabolic diseases. Everyone should be encouraged to screen.”

Discovery Vitality members can complete a Vitality Health Check at several locations around the country, including a Discovery Store, Dis-Chem, Clicks and other pharmacies and doctors in Discovery Health’s network.

Read the full white paper here .


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About Discovery Vitality

Vitality is the largest global platform for behaviour change, underpinning the insurance products of leading insurers worldwide, impacting 30 million lives in over 40 markets. The Vitality model, established by Discovery Limited in South Africa, has been incentivising behaviour change amongst its clients for over 25 years. Vitality creates shared value by combining behavioural economics, clinical science, and financial incentives to encourage and reward members for taking steps to improve their health. The model began with a focus on health and wellness and has expanded to include short-term insurance, investments, and financial wellness. For more information, please visit the Vitality website or email the Discovery Media Relations team. Follow us on Twitter @Vitality_SA


Zeenat Moorad

Zeenat Moorad

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Banking | Vitality | Sponsorships

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