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The City of Johannesburg launched a major health awareness campaign as part of an on-going effort to boost residents' longevity and life expectancy in the city.

THE brainchild of Johannesburg Executive Mayor Mpho Parks Tau, the new drive was launched under the City's Healthy Lifestyle Campaign at Thokoza Park in Rockville, Soweto, on Saturday.

Scores of residents braved the chilly weather to witness the launch, graced by members of the City of Joburg's mayoral committee, including Health MMC Nonceba Molwele and Safety MMC Sello Lemao. Also present were City Manager Trevor Fowler and the Chair of Chairs Clr Isaac Mogase.

Launched under the theme 'We Are All Players' and in line with the City's Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040) objectives, the campaign seeks to tackle risk factors associated with obesity, unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.

Executive Mayor Tau said the high mortality rate among Johannesburg residents was of a prime concern to the city. He emphasised the need for people to take it upon themselves to be health conscious at all times.

"A healthy lifestyle is an individual choice, which cannot be forced on people. We can provide jobs, environmental issues, economy, safety, housing and transport but we can only facilitate that health comes to the people", said Tau.

To make the campaign a success, the city has teamed up with several stakeholders, including Old Mutual, Dischem, Moso Consulting, Ekhayalethu Health Centre, Road Show Marketing, Green Outdoor Gym, Nedbank and Virgin Active and First Lady Bongi Ngema-Zuma through her diabetes foundation.

In her speech, MMC Molwele said: "Our Growth and Development Strategy 2040 (GDS 2040) addresses, among other key outcomes, the issue of healthy living, of which a healthy lifestyle is highly critical factor to be considered".

Ngema-Zuma also addressed the audience, warning Johannesburg residents against eating fatty and oily foods. Her speech was mainly directed at the youth and the elderly.

Ngema-Zuma established the BNZ Foundation in August 2010 to create awareness of diabetes, a lifestyle disease that is sometimes referred to as a 'silent killer'. She is determined to ensure that no one dies of the disease because of a lack of awareness.

The day started with people taking part in various sporting activities such as aerobics and cycling. Residents also underwent free testing for sugar diabetes, cholesterol, high blood pressure and HIV-Aids.