Premier global nutrition company, Herbalife Nutrition, recently released findings from the 2020 Diet Decisions Survey, which revealed that Filipino consumers are eating better. Among those polled, 53% said they have started eating more fruits and vegetables and 43% ate more plant-based food. Among the 11 Asia Pacific markets surveyed, the Philippines also ranked highest (62%) in their openness to plant-based foods/meatless options.
The survey, which polled 8,000 consumers in eight Asia Pacific markets, including Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam, also shed light into the motivations behind the consumers’ recent dietary and lifestyle changes, with the aim of inspiring more people to adopt better nutrition and lifestyle habits to improve their overall well-being now and into the future.
“These results are a good sign that Filipinos are becoming more mindful about their personal health. Making healthier food choices and becoming more open to plant-based and meatless options and staying physically active — these are great ways to start combating obesity, which has been rising worldwide,” said Dr. Rocio Medina, Vice Chairwoman and Member, Nutrition Advisory Board, Herbalife Nutrition.
Dr. Medina spoke about “Reversing Obesity Among Filipinos” during the Virtual Wellness Tour of Herbalife Nutrition Philippines. The monthly event is part of Herbalife Nutrition’s continuing efforts and commitment to raise public awareness on the importance of balanced nutrition and having a healthy active lifestyle.
“Obesity is recognized by leading health organizations, including the American Medical Association and the World Health Organization (WHO), as a chronic disease. It is associated with decreased life expectancy and co-morbidities and requires a long and comprehensive management approach to help people,” Dr. Medina pointed out. She added that the WHO has even declared obesity as the as the largest global health pandemic in adults and is becoming a more serious problem than malnutrition.
Citing figures from the Department of Science and Technology – Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI), Dr. Medina said that one of three adults in the Philippines is obese and this trend has been increasing over time. A high prevalence of young adult obesity occurs across the country, with most obese young adults to be found in Luzon.
According to Dr. Medina, there are three factors that can help improve body composition:
- Increasing one’s intake of high biological value protein, like isolated soy protein, egg white, beef protein, fish, poultry, and whey
- Decreasing one’s consumption of simple carbohydrates such as white bread, white sugar, and white rice.
- Increasing one’s physical activity like doing strength training for 2 to 3 times a week and resistance aerobic training for 3 to 4 times a week.
She also advised cutting down on added sugars.
“Choosing a healthy eating pattern low in added sugars can have important health benefits,” Dr. Medina said.
Top motivators for eating healthier
According to the 2020 Diet Decisions Survey, 58% of the Filipino respondents have made a major change to their diet during the pandemic and 89% agreed that they had a specific moment during the pandemic when they realized they needed to change their diet. Among their top motivators include:
- Their health (82%)
- Weight loss (51%)
- More cost-effective (27%)
Beyond making changes to their diet, 56% also started to exercise more, with consumers in Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia leading the way.
Filipino consumers believe they will emerge healthier from the pandemic
According to the survey findings, 77% believe that they would emerge from the pandemic healthier than they were before and 88% claimed they already noticed a positive difference in their health since they changed their diet. Majority (83%) said they plan to keep the dietary changes that they made for a prolonged period of time.
To help maintain their new diets in the new normal, Filipino consumers said having the following could help:
- Easy-to-follow meal plans (62%)
- Convenient alternatives that don’t take long to make (45%)
- A health and wellness coach (40%)
When it comes to meal plans, Dr. Medina said that a reduced calorie meal plan should be individualized. It should be selected to reflect the person’s personal and cultural preferences.
She likewise added that behavior coaching can also make a difference in improving one’s habits.
“For many people, targeted behavior coaching, which transforms their eating, exercise, and other habits, known as intensive lifestyle intervention, can make a difference,” Dr. Medina said.
Concluding, Dr. Medina underlined the importance of nutrition education. “Having education in an area helps people think, feel, and behave in a way that contributes to their success, and improves not only their personal satisfaction but also their community,” she said.