Promoting Physical Activity and Nutrition

Promoting Physical Activity and Nutrition

Occupational therapists provide interventions to individuals, groups, and populations in order to effect change, optimise health, and improve quality of life.

Accordingly, occupational therapy services are often integral in addressing obesityrelated illnesses and subsequent limitations while managing weight through attention to lifestyle, and the promotion of healthy, active lifestyles.

The purpose of this position paper is explain to persons within and outside of the profession the role of occupational therapists, and/or occupational therapy, in obesity management, from an individual and population perspective.

Occupational therapists are trained to provide vital insight into enabling participation in physical activity, developing functional environments, maintaining independence and addressing societal challenges posed by physical limitation, including obesity. As such, individuals living with obesity are likely to benefit from the services of an occupational therapist.

Through advocacy, occupational therapists promote client services to address obesity. These may include goal setting activities, health promotion undertakings, job site analysis, equipment adaptation and support with activities of daily living. Furthermore, therapists are ideally situated to address the stigma related to obesity through research, education, and self-reflective practice. For instance, therapists may liaise between an employer and employee in order to minimise the stigma associated with obesity and facilitate a timely return to work when applicable.

The therapist plays a pivotal role in the return to work process and meeting both the needs of the worker and the employer. Facilitating improved communication and setting realistic goals will help foster a collegial atmosphere and decrease workplace absenteeism. Obese individuals frequently experience bias, stigmatisation and discrimination due to weight. Stigmatisation refers to a generalised devaluation and social exclusion of individuals as a result of deviance in particular attributes, like being overweight.

As part of a multidisciplinary team, the role of the occupational therapist includes working closely with clients/patients in developing, designing and implement client-centered goals. Like other allied health professions, occupational therapists focus on client-centered approaches to practice.

If you live in the South Africa, there’s a good chance that diabetes impacts you in some way. In South Africa, the chronic illness is common enough that it’s rare to find someone who doesn’t have a connection to the disease. Yet unless it impacts a person or family directly, it’s unlikely that their knowledge of diabetes goes far beyond blood sugar measurement and insulin therapy. However, as the sixth-leading cause of death in South Africa, diabetes isn’t an illness that should be so easily overlooked.

In South Africa, 7% of adults aged 21 to 79 – 3.85 million people – have diabetes. A large proportion of these remain undiagnosed. The global prevalence of adult diabetes has nearly doubled – and is rising more rapidly in middle- and low-income countries.

Despite advances in treatment, those numbers are unlikely to decrease in the coming years: Annually, 1 million South Africans receive a diabetes diagnosis and there is no cure. The good news is that diabetes can be treated and controlled. From exercise to medication to healthy eating, many options are available for individuals with diabetes who are looking to maintain or improve their health. Being able to buy processed “food-like” products is often seen as a mark of personal and material success. Little attention is paid to having a healthy diet.


Good healthy habits like, physical exercise and eating healthy food will ensure that epidemics like obesity and diabetics are decreased and that your quality of live is improved.

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