Obesity situation in the Philippines: double burden of undernutrition, overnutrition

Source: FNRI/DOST

The country faces the ā€˜double-burdenā€™ of undernutrition and overnutritionā€. This is the current obesity situation in the Philippines, according to a Science research specialist of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST).

Felicidad V. Velandria, FNRI-DOST Supervising Science Research Specialist, said that survey results indicated that although the problem of undernutrition has been declining since 1998, the prevalence of overweight and obesity is on the rise.

Dr. Rodolfo F. Florentino, member of PASOO Board of Directors and former Director of the FNRI-DOST, said that obesity is basically an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Energy intake is the energy that people get from the different foods eaten, while energy expenditure is the energy that is burned during physical exercises and normal body activities such as breathing, pumping of the heart, and digesting food.

Florentino explained that Filipinos are becoming obese because they eat large portions of food, consumre many variety of energy-heavy foods, have snacks between meals, eat in fastfood chains, and buying take-home foods as these have been shown to influence energy intake to a lesser or greater degree.

Dr. Ruby T. Go, also a member of the PASOO Board, said that based on epidemiological, clinical, and experimental data, there is a relationship between obesity and cancer.

However, the risk of cancer is reduced with the avoidance of weight gain, Go stressed.

On the other hand, Dr. van der Merwe said that young overweight and obese women, 18 to 35 years old, are more likely to have depressive moods compared to men and were found to be at particular risk of suffering from societal pressures..

In 2003, the PASOO and the FNRI-DOST launched the ā€œWhiz Kids Projectā€ among grade school children enrolled in St. Scholasticaā€™s College in Manila to promote a healthy lifestyle as well as prevent and control overweight and obesity among grade school children.

Health authorities say that the grade school years are the best time to train young girls on the value of good nutrition as they will become mothers a decade later.

After two years, changes were observed in the direction of decreasing overweight which suggested that the program promoted weight loss, Celeste C. Tanchoco, Scientist III and Chief, Nutrition Science and Technology Division, FNRI-DOST, said.
Tanchoco has recommended that policies to promote nutrition education and the creation of a supportive environment for healthy and active lifestyle be implemented in schools.#