NUTRITION NEWS: PHL intensively campaigns for healthy lifestyle

The government is intensively campaigning for healthy lifestyle to prevent  hypertension, high fasting blood sugar (FBS) and dyslipidemia which are major risk factors to lifestyle-related diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and cancer. These lifestyle-related diseases are among the leading causes of death in the country. These are also leading causes of morbidity, particularly diseases of the heart and the vascular system.

The healthy lifestyle campaign promotes transformation of various settings into healthy settings, such as healthy workplace, healthy-eating place, healthy communities and healthy schools, among others.

Despite this, the number of Filipinos who have hypertension, high fasting blood sugar and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels which are risk factors to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases, have increased every year, as shown by the result of a survey undertaken by the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeSn II).

The result of the survey which was conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST)                  showed that one in every four Filipino adults (25.3 percent) has hypertension or a blood pressure (BP) reading equal to or higher than 140/90 millimeter mercury (mmHg).

The survey showed that the prevalence of hypertension significantly increased from  22.5 percent in 2003 to 25.3 percent in 2008 based on single BP determination and that 11 in every 100 (10.8 percent) have pre-hypertension or a BP reading at the range of 130-139/85-89 mmHg. High BP increases with age starting from age 40-49 years.

Based on the NNHeS, the prevalence of high fasting blood sugar (FBS), an indicator of diabetes mellitus, is 5 in every 100 Filipino. However, the survey showed that while the prevalence of high fasting blood sugar increased with 3.4 percent in 2003 to 4.8 percent in 2008, it is not significant. The prevalence of high FBS or hyperglycemia peaks at age 50-59 years.

Three in every 100 Filipinos have impaired fasting glucose (IFG) which may progress to diabetes mellitus in a few years if not prevented.

Hyperglycemia, according to Dr. Mario Capanzana, director of the FNRI-DOST is an FBS level greater than 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), while IFG is an FBS level in the range of 110-125 mg/dL. Dyslipidemia or abnormal lipid levels significantly increased from 2003 to 2008.

One in every 10 (10.2 percent) Filipino adults has high total cholesterol level, while 21 in every 100 (21.2 percent) are borderline high. Moreover, 15 in every 100 (14.6 percent) have high triglyceride level, while 16 in every 100 (15.5 percent) are borderline high.

The prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c) level increased from 54.2 percent in 2003 to 64.1 percent in 2008. In contrast, the prevalence of high low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-c) level did not change much, from 11.7 percent in 2003 to 11.8 percent in 2008.

A person is considered to have a low HDL-c level if the fasting blood measurement is less than 40 mg/dl while a high LDL-c level of the fasting blood measurement is greater than or equal to 160 mg/dl.

Message 10 of the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) recommends that for a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, exercise regularly, do not smoke and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages.

The NGF also suggests eating a variety of foods everyday, and consuming more fruits, vegetables, rootcrops and legumes. These are very rich sources of fiber that help lower cholesterol level and prolong the response time of our body to blood glucose levels, and limiting the intake of salty food to help prevent hypertension.#