Obesity most prevalent among the richest in PH

PUBLIC CONCERN. The increasing trend of obesity in the Philippines is alarming.

PUBLIC CONCERN. The increasing trend of obesity in the Philippines is alarming.

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Obesity is fast becoming a national public health concern, with 3 in every 10 Filipino adults aged 20 and above suffering from it, the National Nutrition Council (NNC) said on Monday, July 13.

In a briefing here, NNC Region X Director Marissa Navales said the rise of obesity in the country is attributed to the influx of processed foods and accessibility to fast foods, lack of physical activities, the change of dietary intakes and lifestyle, child undernutrition, and poor breastfeeding practices. (READ: Busting 6 myths on obesity)

There is also an increased in meat consumption in vegetable consumption in the country.

According to latest data from the NNC, 31.1% or 3 in every 10 Filipino adults are obese and overweight or have excessively accumulated fat that may impair health. (READ: What is the nutritional status of Filipinos?)

Related to wealth growth

Navales said that as the country develops, there is a relationship between obesity and the growing wealth of people. (READ: Poverty, hunger still threaten MDG)

“The richest of the rich has the highest percentage of obese with 42.7% in the urban area and 42.4% in the rural areas,” Navales added.

She said that even the poorest in the country still have a high percentage of obese and overweight among them: 22.4% of the poorest of the poor from the urban areas are obese while 14.9% came from the rural areas.

Among the regions in the country, Caraga has the highest prevalence of obesity among adults, with 35%. Western Visayas has the lowest at 22.8%.

Navales said that data showed that obesity and overweight prevalence in the country has been rising in the last two decades, with the numbers of obese adult doubling from 16.6% in 1993 to 31.1% in 2013.

Among preschool children, the prevalence is 4.9%. For 5-10-year-old children, the rate was 5.8% in 2003, but had gone down to 5% in 2013.

For 10-19-year-olds, the prevalence increased from 5.8% in 2003 to 8.3% in 2013.

Economic losses due to obesity

Nita Antipuesto, president of the Nutritionists and Dieticians Association of the Philippines-Misamis Oriental chapter, warned of the danger of the increasing prevalence of obesity among Filipinos. (READ: How to end obesity in the Philippines)

“The cases of obesity leads to Chronic Metabolism Syndrome, which would results to multiple health problems, like hypertension, diabetes, heart and Lipid problem to name a few,” Antipuesto said.

With the rising cases of obesity, it means that 31% will spend more on medicines, hospitalizations and job loss.

“If you are overweight, you can get sick, you pay for it, and then you can’t work, you will lose economically,” she said.

Antipuesto added that obesity is strongly associated with the increased cases of having heart diseases, several forms of cancer, cardiovascular and musco-skeletal disorders, and maternal obesity which leads to congenital abnormality. (READ: How being overweight can threaten your body)

“These diseases are related to increased health care cost, and decreased productivity, premature death, substantial disability, and economic retardation,” Antpuesto said.

“In addition, obese have a reduced quality of life,” she said.

National response

According to Navales, the government plans to arrest the increase in prevalence by 2016. It does this through wellness programs with nutrition component in elementary schools, ban of softdrinks in school canteens, installing bike and walking lanes to promote physical activity, among others. (READ: Preventing obesity at home, community, and school)

“We know that we have good programs to address the challenges but, like everything else, we are poor in implementation, monitoring and compliance, and many laws on health are underfunded,” Navales said. – Rappler.com