We are getting obese

More and more Filipinos are getting obese. And the country’s journey to the unhealthy state of national corpulence has already shifted into high gear. A BusinessMirror report confirmed this trend. Citing figures from the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), the report established the growing prevalence of obesity among adult Filipinos: from 16.6 percent in 1993 to 29.9 percent in 2013. In other words, three of every 10 Filipino adults are obese.

Here’s the alarming part: The FNRI saw a yearly increase in the number of obese children (0-5 years of age) at an average of 0.17 percent. There is also a yearly increase of 0.33 percent for children ages 5.8 to 10, and 0.34 percent for adolescents.

The operative word is “yearly,” which means the problem will accelerate every year if not effectively addressed soon. We have time to beg off from joining a global phenomenon, dubbed “globesity,” by the World Health Organization (WHO). The global obesity problems stem from increasingly sedentary lifestyles, combined with a growing consumption of convenience foods.

In the Philippines, as in other countries, a growing number of people prefer eating snacks rather than meals. This is not healthy because most of the snack foods available are low in micronutrients but high in salt, fat and sugar content. We eat commercial foods stripped of nutrients and loaded with chemicals to guarantee a long shelf life, and engineered taste so people will be able to eat more.

Rampant snacking of sweet and savory junk food has been fingered as the culprit behind the globesity crisis. It has been suggested that irresponsible marketing and greed led to giant serving sizes and the explosion of the fast-food industry. Our most accessible foods today have very little to do with good nutrition. And because we are not educated about nutrition and proper diet, we do not make the connection between food and wellness.

A study by Brian Wansink, Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab director, noted that overeating can stem from the individual not knowing when he or she is already full. Wansink saw the obesity epidemic driven by readily available and affordable food doled out in large portions—such as eat-all-you-can buffets that tempt you to eat more than you usually do.

Described as pandemic, the global spread of obesity is loaded with affliction: Increased incidence of Type 2 diabetes and its associated complications, increased risk of cardiovascular disease and increased risk of cancer. The WHO noted that obesity and being overweight ranked fifth among the leading risks of global deaths, with 2.8 million adults dying each year due to this medical condition.

Fortunately, you can avoid getting obese just by being mindful when you eat. Choose nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables, and be wise to use the OS-OM formula to junk junkfood—out of sight, out of mind. Follow the Japanese tradition called Hara Hachi Bu, which means “eat until you are 80 percent full.”  This is one sure way to avoid overeating and getting obese.

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