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United effort to make Tygerberg a water wise campus effort to make Tygerberg a water wise campusLiezel Engelbrecht<p>​Inhabitants of the Western Cape have been aware for a while that the province finds itself in the clutches of a disastrous drought and a convincing solution is not in sight. Although many individuals and organisations have been saving water, a lot more can be done to reduce water consumption.</p><p>The Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences' (FMHS) Green Committee is one of the organisations at Stellenbosch University (SU) that campaigns for the creation of greater awareness about the water crisis. </p><p>“We encourage personnel and students to use the information we disseminate in the monthly <em>Impromptu</em> news letters and by means of social media as talking points," said Ms Christine Groenewald, project coordinator of the Green Committee.</p><p>Groenewald recently attended an information session at SU's Tygerberg campus, where members of the FMHS' facility management shared their plans for sustainable, integrated and cost-effective solutions to counter the drought. </p><p>“As an institution we have to consume 20% less water than last year," said Groenewald. According to her, management has a three-pronged approach to achieve this and to have enough water to keep the campus going, even though the City's water is limited. This approach entails: </p><ul><li>rationing water by applying reduced pressure and controlled flow; </li><li>fixing leakages, improving tap and toilet flows and using water-saving shower heads; and</li><li>investigating the use of alternative water sources, including boreholes and storm-water catchment.</li></ul><p>According to Groenewald, some 35% of water in residences is used to shower and the new shower heads that are presently being installed, will cut this consumption by half. Leakages are being treated as a priority and the use of hand-washing water to flush toilets is being investigated. “Basins account for some 35% of the total water consumption."<br><br>However, grey water conversion is going to take a while before it can be implemented, since all the buildings' water pipes, some of which are very old, have to be checked first. In the meantime, the use of water-free hand disinfection units in bathrooms and the procurement of water-saving apparatus for laboratories are being investigated.<br><br>According to Groenewald, progress is being made and boreholes have already been sunk. “Naturally, further related processes will depend on the quality of the water and when it is found." <br><br>Student leadership in residences plays an important role to make students aware of the necessity to save water. “Initiatives are already in place in residences to reduce shower times and catch water in buckets to flush toilets. The Green Committee has sponsored 10 buckets per residence to kick-start the project, but efficient use depends on the leaders and residence's passion and commitment to the cause. We encourage students to implement their ideas."<br><br>What does Groenewald regard as the biggest water-saving challenge? “Firstly, the behaviour of personnel and students. The infrastructure of the buildings and the original design of the systems are also challenges and Faculty management is attending to this."</p><p><em>Personnel and students are encouraged to report leakages at </em><a href=""><span lang="EN-ZA" style="text-decoration:underline;"><em></em></span></a><em> or 021 808 4666.</em><br><br><strong>Plant, eat and be green!</strong></p><p>The Green Committee recently launched a vegetable garden project and planting will commence in January 2018. “It's still a project in the making," says Groenewald. <br><br>“The idea is to give students a chance to cultivate their own vegetables and also share the crop with the food pantry to help poor students. Simultaneously, we can make the 'green agenda' more visible."<br><br>A parcel of land of approximately 20m<sup>2</sup> was prepared behind the rugby field on the Tygerberg campus for this purpose and will later be enlarged as needs be. “We are still waiting for a water tank to be delivered and storage space for the implements."<br><br>Groenwald says students will each be able to obtain a little area to cultivate vegetables of their choice, and the Green Committee will sponsor the seedlings. “We want to co-operate closely with the organisation Plant to Seed for training and assistance."  <br><br>Be on the look-out for more news about this project on campus.</p>
Thuli Madonsela speaks at Theological Day Madonsela speaks at Theological Day Helette van der Westhuizen<p>Those interested are cordially invited to the Theological Day, the start of the academic year of the Faculty of Theology, Stellenbosch University (SU). It will take place on Monday 5 February 2018 from 09:00 to12:30 in the Attie van Wijk Auditorium at the Faculty of Theology, 171 Dorp Street, Stellenbosch. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">The theme is: <strong>Daring speech and action in a time like this: Theology, ethics and civil courage.</strong> South Africa's former Public Protector, Thuli Madonsela will be the opening speaker. Prof Madonsela recently took up her new position as Chair in Social Justice in the Law Faculty of SU. Rev Courtney Sampson, Head of the Western Cape Independent Electoral Commission will be the speaker after tea. Rev Sampson is also a licensed active priest serving in the Anglican Diocese of Saldanha Bay. A panel with Revs Jeanet Sibanda, Hanzline Davids and Allan Storey will offer a short reflection on the theme from their specific contexts and ministry. The program allows adequate opportunity for discussion.</p><p>Attendance is free and all are welcome! Please note that limited parking is available at the faculty and guests are advised to park in The Avenue or on the banks of the Eerste River (opposite Paul Roos Gymnasium). Please allow ample time for traffic.<br> <br>The welcoming church service of the faculty will take place on Sunday 4 February 2018 at 19:00 at the Rhenish Church on the Braak, Stellenbosch. Prof Reggie Nel, new dean at the Faculty of Theology is the preacher and Dr Andries Daniels is the liturgist. </p><p>Enquiries: Helette, e-mail, tel 021 808 9560.<br> <br><br></p><p><br><br> </p>
SU videos featured on WHO training library videos featured on WHO training libraryFMHS Marketing & Communications / FGGW Bemarking & Kommunikasie<p>Two videos produced by the Film and Television Unit in Stellenbosch University's (SU) Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology have been selected as medical training videos by the World Health Organisation (WHO).</p><p>The videos, titled “Catheterization of the bladder" and “Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ)", will be featured on the YouTube channel of the WHO's Reproductive Health Library. Mr Willie Myburgh from the Film and Television unit is responsible for the recording and production of the videos.</p><p>“Our videos form an integral part of the training material at the Skills Lab, and we are proud of having reached a standard that our videos are accepted by the World Health Organisation to be viewed on a large scale," said Prof Hennie Botha, Head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. </p><p>Prof Bert Schaetzing, now retired and Emeritus Professor of the Department is still actively involved in the production of medical films and has participated in directing, editing, scripting and commentary design of videos accepted by the Reproductive Health Unit of the WHO. In total, five videos by the Film and Television Unit are featured:</p><ul style="list-style-type:disc;"><li>Catheterization of the bladder</li><li>Large Loop Excision of the Transformation Zone (LLETZ)</li><li>Examination of the Placenta</li><li>Termination of pregnancy with the manual vacuum aspirator</li><li>Laparoscopic sterilization with Falope ring and Filshie clip</li></ul><p> View the medical training videos on the WHO Reproductive Health Library's YouTube channel: <a href=""><span lang="EN-GB" style="text-decoration:underline;"></span></a> </p>
What a difference a Dave makes a difference a Dave makesJackie Pienaar-Brink<p>He is the professor who enlivens a long meeting by an atrocious pun. Also the one who asks you after your presentation why you chose this specific statistical test over another one.</p><p>He is the friend who shows up for a visit with a board game under the arm and the photographer who asks you to stand just so. And he is the colleague who grins broadly when he sees you coming down the hallway.</p><p>This is Prof Dave Tabb – in his own words.</p><p>He is also an American who uprooted himself with some difficulty after a decision in 2015 to become part of the South African story. Yet it seems as if this specialist in the field of proteome informatics found his feet in South Africa personally and professionally quite speedily.</p><p>Tabb, who enjoys the company of a local high school teacher when away from the office, commenced his work in the Division of Molecular Biology and Human Genetics of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences (FMHS) at Stellenbosch University (SU) on 1 December 2015.</p><p>He is the younger of two brothers. Until very recently he was the only member of his family with a passport. He does not hesitate to admit that the prospect of moving to a new continent intimidated him. He pressed forward, despite challenges such as a visa process which required six months to navigate and the knowledge that his compensation would be reduced in the new position. “Along the way I have been described as anything from 'stubborn' and 'crazy' to 'brave'. I will settle for 'persistent'."</p><p>What attracted him to his current job at Stellenbosch University?</p><p>“I wanted to work at an institution where my skills would make the largest possible impact. Although South Africa faces genuine public health challenges, it has a solid research infrastructure to combat it. As more institutions acquire mass spectrometers for use in biomedical research, I believe a critical need will develop for bioinformaticians trained to work with such data. SU advertised a position attached to the South African Tuberculosis Bioinformatics Initiative, and our conversation started soon thereafter."</p><p>Tabb has a five year appointment which is partly funded by the Medical Research Council. This means that he serves as a bioinformatics resource for TB researchers countrywide.</p><p>He believes in “being useful," is his concise answer when asked about his work approach. “If our division needs me to field biostatistics questions, I will do my utmost to do so. I believe proteomics and metabolomics will see broadening use throughout South Africa, and fostering that development is a priority for me. Ensuring that masters and PhD students in our division are well-equipped in numeracy is quite enjoyable."</p><p>Tabb commenced his work in proteomics in 1996, the year when he obtained his BSc degree at the Arkansas University. The focus was bioinformatics, which enabled protein identification by means of tandem mass spectrometry. “I don't generate data, but can help someone determine what it means," he explains.</p><p>He obtained a doctorate at the University of Washington in 2003. Afterwards he worked as a postdoctoral student at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and as a tenured associate professor at Vanderbilt University.</p><p> One of his hobbies is to portray the beauty of his new home by means of his blog,</p><p> He has also derived much pleasure from singing in choirs during the past decade. He has joined the “Singing Sensations," a choir consisting of FMHS academics, who elicit a lot of oohs and has during the Faculty's yearly gala evening.</p><p>Where does he see himself in ten years?</p><p>“I will review the careers of graduate students trained in the South African Tuberculosis Bioinformatics Initiative with intense satisfaction. I will see a Dave-shaped dent in the world and know that I made a difference."</p><p><em>Caption: Prof Dave Tabb</em></p><p><em>Photo by: Luigi Bennett</em></p>
Election of Council Members: Convocation and Donors of Council Members: Convocation and DonorsRegistrateur-kantoor / Registrar Office<p>​The terms of five members (three Convocation members and two donors) of the Stellenbosch University (SU) Council will expire on 1 April 2018 and another position has become available due to the resent resignation of Prof GJ Crafford who was elected as Council member of the University by the Convocation for the period 4 November 2016 to 1 April 2020. <br></p><p>The Registrar of SU, Dr Ronel Retief, is now awaiting nominations for people to fill these positions.  Nominations are awaited until midnight on Wednesday, 24 January 2018  and if the number of nominations exceed the number of existing vacancies, an election will be held during February / March.</p><p>Ballot papers will be sent out to voters per mail or per e-mail and it is therefore essential that persons potentially eligible to vote ensure that their contact details held by the Alumni Office are correct.<br></p><p>Donors who qualify as members of the electoral college of donors and members of the Convocation of SU will be able to participate in the election by voting on the SU website before the closing date, or by completing a ballot paper and handing it in at the Registrar's office, faxing it to a number that will be provided or emailing it. It is crucial that voters cast their votes only on the web or per ballot paper.<br></p><p>Non-SA citizens who are Convocation members or donors may obtain access to the web/election process by using their student numbers, while SA citizens may use their ID or student numbers.<br></p><ul><li><p>​Persons eligible to vote can check their contact and other details held by the Alumni Office by sending an  e-mail to  <br></p></li></ul><p><br> </p>
At the heart of rooibos’ benefits the heart of rooibos’ benefitsLiezel Engelbrecht<p>​Scientists are closing in on their understanding of how the South African fynbos plant rooibos can help prevent the deadly effects of one of the worlds' fastest growing lifestyle diseases: type 2 diabetes.</p><p>This disease, characterised by high levels of blood glucose (sugar) due to increasing insulin insensitivity, has impelled many researchers to investigate alternative mechanisms through which glucose uptake into cells can be increased in an effort to find a cure.</p><p>Now Sybrand Smit, a PhD student under the guidance of Prof Barbara Huisamen of the Division of Medical Physiology at the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, is one step closer to this breakthrough.</p><p>Smit's research for his master's degree focused on the use of aspalathin, a compound known to contribute to rooibos' beneficial effects, and its therapeutic potential for the diabetic heart by inducing glucose uptake.</p><p>“This would be cardio-protective in diabetic patients with a high circulation of blood glucose levels and thus provide a means for the heart to cope with excessive blood glucose," he explains. However, this could not be proven when aspalathin was briefly administered to cells prepared from a rat heart.</p><p>Aspalathin did induce glucose uptake in rat heart cells from young and aged control rats, but it did not show significant results for obese rats.</p><p>“But although the study casts doubt on the acute efficacy of aspalathin to be therapeutic in insulin-resistant cells, a novel find was discovering that insulin resistance delays aspalathin action," Smit explains. He is excited to have found a strong correlation between aspalathin sensitivity and insulin sensitivity.</p><p>So, what are the next steps for researchers, and how can this be applied to humans?</p><p>“It is known that rooibos consumption can be cardio-protective in patients at risk of heart disease. However, whether diabetic patients can benefit, requires further investigation. Therefore, for future studies, aspalathin as a dietary supplement needs to be used to investigate its long-term effects on insulin resistance (induced by a high-fat, high-caloric diet), obesity, heart function and protection following a simulated heart-attack, energy metabolism, oxidative status and anti-inflammatory properties."</p><p>Smit, a self-proclaimed natural product enthusiast who grew up with rooibos as the preferred hot beverage due to its abundance in his surrounding hometowns of Clanwilliam and Lambert's Bay, can't think of a better project to sink his teeth into.</p><p>For his PhD research he will be undertaking a rat dietary study of green rooibos (which has significantly higher levels of aspalathin than its fermented counterpart) and its hopefully beneficial effects in bridging the gap between the diabetic heart and normal heart functioning.</p>
Words to remember from Stellenbosch University’s Graduation in December 2017 to remember from Stellenbosch University’s Graduation in December 2017Corporate Communications Division<p>Stellenbosch University (SU) awarded 5 720 degrees, certificates and diplomas at eight graduation ceremonies in the Coertzenburg Centre in December 2017.  That is 420 qualifications more than in December 2016, and 700 more than in December 2015.  The December 2017 total includes 142 doctoral and 545 Master's degrees.</p><p>Prof Wim de Villiers, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, delivered the welcoming address at six of the graduation ceremonies, while the Chancellor, Dr Johann Rupert, welcomed guests and students at two ceremonies.</p><p><strong>Prof Wim de Villiers:</strong></p><ul><li> “Like a tree that gets new leaves for the 100<sup><font size="2">th</font></sup> time, Stellenbosch University's Centenary (in 2018) heralds a new beginning, and at the same time an acknowledgement of the growth, hard work and important lessons of the past 100 years."<br><br></li><li> “Our achievements – of which there were many – we will undoubtedly celebrate.  However, there were also serious challenges and mistakes.  It's important that we acknowledge these – as we indeed already have done and will continue to do – in order for us to apply on the road ahead what we learnt from the past."<br><br></li><li> “All the tests you wrote, the assignments you completed, all that lab work and examinations have come together in something great and wonderful. If you hang on to that incremental approach, you will achieve even greater things in life.<br><br></li><li> “Today marks the culmination of an incredible journey for our new graduates, and the beginning of another. They have come so far, but unfortunately, difficult financial circumstances might prevent some from entering the next stage of their lives. We have launched a fundraising campaign to help them overcome the final hurdle. The campaign is called #SU99. We are overwhelmed by the almost R999 999 that has been raised thus far"<br><br></li><li> “Our own Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences is a recognised hub of global excellence in many areas and has been the launching pad for a number of ground-breaking initiatives. So, the qualification that our students will receive today, will enable them to stand tall on the world stage. And it (ground-breaking research with social impact) results from staff and students at the University always identifying problems and looking for solutions."<br><br></li><li> “The biological clock is involved in many aspects of our complex physiology. A large proportion of our genes are regulated by the biological clock. So, since this discovery, circadian biology has developed into a vast and highly dynamic research field, with significant implications for our health and wellbeing – and some of that research is taking place at this very University.<br><br></li><li> “South African schools face huge challenges, which means that unfortunately, some learners don't receive the education they need to gain entry into university. The talent development and university preparation programmes in our Faculty of Education are aimed at addressing this problem."<br><br> </li><li>“Stellenbosch also makes an impact as the only university in the country to offer Military Science."<br><br></li><li>“The unique relationship between Stellenbosch University and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) represents a strategic alliance to contribute to peace and security on our continent."<br><br> </li><li>“The Faculty of AgriSciences always comes up with interesting PhD's, which usually make the news headlines – just what one can expect from doctorates in biltong, Karoo lamb, pomegranates, milk and honey ... I mean, really!  And let's not even make mention of bees and ticks!  That's what you'd refer to as research with bite!"<br><br></li><li> “A word about the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.  They have so many graduates that they have two ceremonies."<br><br></li><li>“To come to university is an important stage in life for many … but there are often significant stumbling blocks to overcome.  Being physically challenged is something that many of our students face."<br><br></li><li>“SU strives to ensure that being physically challenged is not a barrier for a student to gain admission. We have had students who are physically challenged on campus as far back as 1970."<br><br>“I am glad to say that this year, the Disability Unit within our Centre for Student Counselling and Development is celebrating its 10th anniversary – that's a decade of helping to level the playing field for our students who are physically challenged." </li></ul><p><strong>Dr Johann Rupert:</strong></p><ul><li>“We trust that the qualification you have gained will bring you great benefits."<br><br></li><li>“For those of you who will be involved with accountancy and auditing, do all in your power to ensure that integrity, responsibility and accountability triumphs at all times, especially in view of the fact that you are in the front line against dishonesty, corruption and self-enrichment."<br><br> </li><li>“I never said radical economic transformation is theft."<br><br></li><li>In congratulating the new graduates, Dr Rupert encouraged them to work on “radical economic growth that is distributed fairly. “<br><br></li><li>“Carry on learning because if you stop you will be left behind. Stay curious and have empathy with your fellow human beings and the planet. With empathy and curiosity, you will go a long way."<br><br></li><li>“Remember what you have learned, but forget it all. In five to ten years' time most of what we know now will be totally irrelevant." </li></ul><p>​If you want to listen to the full welcoming addresses, click<a href=""> <strong class="ms-rteThemeForeColor-5-4">here.</strong></a> <br><br></p>
First Congolese doctor in AgriSciences at SU Congolese doctor in AgriSciences at SUAlec Basson / Corporate Communication<p>Stellenbosch University (SU) is one of the higher education institutions in South Africa that consistently produces the most PhDs in the country. Some of these doctorates are also awarded to students from other African countries. One such student is Dr Bilungi Alain Useni from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who obtained his doctorate in Animal Science on Wednesday (6 December) at SU's fifth graduation ceremony of December 2017. The first Congolese to be awarded a PhD in SU's Faculty of AgriSciences, Useni did research on the importance of energy supplementation for milk production and fertility of dairy cows.</p><p><strong>Success at SU</strong></p><p>Born in the city of Kolwezi and trained at the University of Lubumbashi in Lubumbashi in the DRC, Useni's association with SU goes back to 2007 when he started as a special student in the Intensive English Programme at the University. The following year, he enrolled for a MSc (Agric)-degree in SU's Department of Animal Sciences under the supervision of Dr Francois van de Vyver. Useni completed his master's degree in March 2011.</p><p>In April 2011 he was accepted by the Western Cape Agricultural Research Trust as a PhD-student to conduct research on the fertility of dairy cows at the Elsenburg Research Farm of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture (WCDA). Through the project, he gained experience and mentorship in dairy farming.  </p><p>Useni says his decision to study at SU was based on the culture of academic excellence and cutting-edge research in agriculture at the institution. He also wanted to improve his English language proficiency.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Looking back on his journey, Useni says it wasn't always smooth sailing.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“At the beginning of my postgraduate training at SU, life was not always easy. Because my mother tongue is French, I struggled with English. Coming from a big family, I missed the social connection with my relatives."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“But, I was fortunate to have had the support of one of my brothers who was already in Cape Town when I arrived in South Africa."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Despite his initial struggles, Useni endured and even ventured outside his studies in agriculture. Always ready to broaden his horizons, he completed short courses in Leadership through community interaction, HIV peer education and gender facilitation, HIV counselling, Afrikaans for beginners and Global citizenship. He worked for SU's HIV co-ordination office on their HIV campaigns and outreaches, and also helped Matie Community Service in supporting local schools with student-led volunteer learning and interaction initiatives. As if this wasn't enough, Useni also found time to represent SU at the New Hope Summits. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Juggling many balls at once seems to come natural to Useni.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">While working hard on his PhD, he received a teaching and development grant from the Department of Higher Education and Training (2013-2016) that allowed him to assist academics in tutoring, marking, practical work and teaching certain modules related to his expertise in Animal Sciences.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Useni puts his success and cultural integration at SU down to always having a cheerful disposition, hard work and perseverance.</p><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong>Support</strong></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Today Useni is grateful to his parents for instilling in him the desire to use education as a means of making progress in life and helping to create a better society.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He is also full of praise for his wife Rachel, a medical doctor, to whom he has been married for 5 years. She also an alumnus of the University of Lubumbashi.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“She has been very supportive towards my studies and is the one who used to worry much about all the stresses of my studies. Without her support, life would have been very difficult. She is really an angel and a blessing to me. Rachel has also blessed me with two kids, Joshua who is 3 years and Amelia who is 4 months."</p><p style="text-align:justify;">He holds in high regard his mentors, Dr Carel Muller at the WCDA and Prof Christiaan Cruywagen at SU's Department of Animal Sciences, for giving him the opportunity to do his doctorate. </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Useni says he doesn't regret for one moment his decision 10 years ago to make SU his home. “It formed me from humble and challenging beginnings to the person that I have become today." </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Having achieved the pinnacle of academic success, Useni feels that he has repaid the confidence his family and many others had in him.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">“Through this academic achievement, I believe that I've made my family and anyone who invested directly or indirectly in me very proud, many thanks! Enkosi kakhulu! Baie dankie! Merci beaucoup! Asantesana!". </p><p style="text-align:justify;">Regarding his future plans, Useni says he would like to work in the Southern African agricultural industry and use his knowledge to help find solutions for some of Africa's problems, especially those related to agriculture.</p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li><strong>Photo</strong>: Dr Bilungi Alain Useni with his wife Rachel and their two children Joshua and Amelia at the graduation ceremony.<br></li><li><strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els<br></li></ul><p style="text-align:justify;"><strong> </strong></p><p><br></p>
South Africa’s twin malnutrition challenges: hunger and obesity Africa’s twin malnutrition challenges: hunger and obesityProf Xikombiso Mbhenyane & Irene Labuschagne<p><em>This article was originally published on </em><a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;"><em>The Conversation</em></span></a><em>. Read the full article </em><a href=""><span style="text-decoration:underline;">here</span></a>.</p><p>Many South Africans <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">are going hungry</span></a>. At the same time <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">obesity rates are rising</span></a>. This is unsurprising - both are forms of malnutrition and tend to go together. The coexistence of poverty and obesity is <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">a global phenomenon</span></a>. </p><p>Poverty leads to food deprivation and under-nutrition, which in extreme cases leads to stunting. Research <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">suggests</span></a> that under-nutrition in early life may play a role in promoting adult obesity. Studies on three continents show that nutritional stunting, usually caused by chronic under-nutrition, is associated <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">with adult fatness</span></a>.</p><p>A number of theories have been offered to explain the relationship. The most basic look at access to nutritious and quality food. These arguments hold that the most food insecure, who are often the poorest, do not have sufficient access to quality food.</p><p>In 2014, over 10 million South Africans, 19.7% of the country's population, <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">reported</span></a> having inadequate food access. Factors such as accessibility, affordability, and quality of available food are part of the reason why over three million people (6.5%) reported had severely <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">inadequate food access</span></a>. </p><p>And the health department has raised the alarm bells about the significance of the obesity crisis facing the country. <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">Studies</span></a> have reported that the overall prevalence of overweight and obesity is the highest among South African women. Data from the department shows that obesity increased dramatically – from <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">27% to 39.2%</span></a> – among females between 2007 to 2013. </p><p>Obesity also poses a range of health problems. For example, it's associated with type II diabetes and heart disease. </p><p>But there are solutions. Some include legislation and taxes that discourage unhealthy eating and advertising such as sugar taxes, regulating food advertising and labelling and mass media campaigns. Nutrition education can guide people to make the best possible food choices with the money they have available. </p><p>In addition, school based interventions that promote healthy snacks with fruits as opposed to sweets have been shown <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">to be effective</span></a>. </p><p><strong>What's driving obesity</strong></p><p>Urbanisation is an important contributor to rising obesity prevalence. Around 64% of South Africans <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">live in urban areas</span></a> and the United Nations projects this will reach <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">77% by 2050</span></a>. Urbanisation is a way to escape poverty and potentially offers better job prospects. But it also creates the conditions for obesity. </p><p>There are notable differences between eating patterns in urban and rural areas. In towns, people tend to eat readily available fast food, sugar-sweetened beverages, fried chicken and white bread. Food like this introduces more sugar, salt and saturated fat into people's diets. </p><p>A typical “low quality" meal consists of mostly mealie-meal, bread or rice, with very little animal protein or vegetables to provide nutrients. The meal is also usually prepared with cheap oil and lots of salt. </p><p>People in urban areas also tend to be less active than those in rural areas, because of <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">the nature of their work.</span></a></p><p><strong>Possible solutions</strong></p><p>Legislation and taxes are very important. Laws can influence how advertising is done, and taxes can influence the consumption of unhealthy food and drinks. </p><p>Last year South Africa <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">implemented legislation</span></a> in a bid to reduce the intake of salt and this year it has turned its attention to a tax on <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">sugar.</span></a> Sugar taxes were conceived as a way to <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">reduce consumption of sweetened beverages</span></a>.</p><p>On top of this the country has introduced policies to address malnutrition. The two biggest ones are the <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">Integrated Nutrition Programme</span></a> and <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">National School Feeding Programme</span></a>.</p><p>A school feeding scheme's primary objective is to alleviate short-term hunger, enabling children to learn. School based approaches and community initiatives have shown encouraging results <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">in South Africa</span></a>. They have relieved hunger and increased school attendance.</p><p>The percentage of learners in South African public schools who receive daily school meals increased from just over <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">50% in 2007/2008 to 70% in 2010/2011</span></a>. </p><p>But the government can do more to teach people about affordable nutrition – particularly about eating pluses and legumes which are a rich in nutrients and are affordable.</p><p>We know from national food intake data that South Africans eat too little <a href=""><span lang="EN" style="text-decoration:underline;">fruit and vegetables.</span></a>. Food gardens in urban and rural communities could help. </p><p>There is no single or simple solution to the obesity or under nutrition problems. It is complex and there has to be a multifaceted approach. Policy makers, state and local organisations, business and community leaders, school, childcare and healthcare professionals, and individuals must work together. A fundamental component of nutrition education is to guide people to make the best possible food choices with the money they have available for purchasing food. The effectiveness and sustainability of education programmes can be enhanced if nutrition education is integrated into other food production and public health programmes.</p><p><em>Photo credit: Pixabay</em></p>
Top engineering student wins Chancellor’s Medal engineering student wins Chancellor’s MedalCorporate Communication / Korporatiewe Kommunikasie​Ms Jacqueline Kazmaier received Stellenbosch University (SU)'s coveted Chancellor's Medal for 2017 on Thursday (7 December) at the seventh graduation ceremony of SU's December graduation. <div><br><p>As the highest honour bestowed on a student by the University, the Chancellor's Medal is awarded annually to a final year or postgraduate student who has excelled.<br></p><p>Ms Kazmaier, who hails from Namibia and now lives in Somerset West, enrolled for a BEng degree in Industrial Engineering in 2014.<br></p><p>She achieved the rare feat of passing all of her modules with distinction during the four-year Engineering course and also boasted the best overall average in Industrial Engineering over the last three years. Her average over four years was 89.7%.<br></p><p>Being a top academic achiever, Kazmaier has been a member of the Golden Key International Honours Society since 2014. The Golden Key International Honours Society is the world's premier collegiate honour society that recognises outstanding academic achievement and connects high-achieving individuals locally, regionally & globally.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">But for Kazmaier it hasn't just been about books, going to classes and studying for tests and exams over the past four years. <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">“You have to keep a good balance. I actually noticed after my first year, when I started to do more things I enjoy over weekends or after class, that I actually started doing better than before, so my advice to other students would be to do your hobbies as much as you do your university work," said Kazmaier.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Apart from honing her skills in photography, videography and graphic design, she was also actively involved in, among others, the Management Committee of the German Carnival Society of Stellenbosch University (<em>MatieKa</em>); DASUS, a university society for primarily German-speaking students that facilitates the introduction of new German students into the Matie Community, and SU's<em> Consulting Society</em>. As a music lover, Kazmaier also took part in a very successful run during the <em>Sêr</em> acapella singing competition in 2015 and 2016 at SU.</p><p style="text-align:justify;">Throughout her studies, Kazmaier also took time out to participate in surfing and volleyball as a member of both Maties Surfing and Maties Volleyball.<br></p><p style="text-align:justify;">Kazmaier says she will return to SU next year and continue her studies by doing a Masters in Industrial Engineering. She also plans to do an exchange to Munich for six months, as part of her postgraduate studies.</p><ul style="text-align:justify;"><li>​This is the second consecutive year that the Chancellor's Medal is awarded to an Engineering student.<br></li></ul><p><strong>​Phot​o</strong>: Ms Jacqueline Kazmaier with Proff Wikus van Niekerk, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Wim de Villiers, Rector and Vice-Chancellor, at the graduation ceremony. </p><p><strong>Photographer</strong>: Stefan Els</p><p style="text-align:justify;"> <br></p><p style="text-align:justify;"> </p><p>​ </p><p><br></p></div>