Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) impose a growing burden on the health, economy, and development of South Africa. According to the World Health Organization, four risk factors, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, unhealthy diets, and physical inactivity, account for a significant proportion of major NCDs. We analyze the role of tobacco, alcohol, and food corporations in promoting NCD risk and unhealthy lifestyles in South Africa and in exacerbating inequities in NCD distribution among populations. Through their business practices such as product design, marketing, retail distribution, and pricing and their business practices such as lobbying, public relations, philanthropy, and sponsored research, national and transnational corporations in South Africa shape the social and physical environments that structure opportunities for NCD risk behavior. Since the election of a democratic government in 1994, the South African government and civil society groups have used regulation, public education, health services, and community mobilization to modify corporate practices that increase NCD risk. By expanding the practice of health education to include activities that seek to modify the practices of corporations as well as individuals, South Africa can reduce the growing burden of NCDs.
Keywords: alcohol and substance abuse; diet; health policy; social determinants; tobacco control and policy.
© 2015 Society for Public Health Education.