Heavy burdens

OBESITY is not quite known as a form of malnutrition.

While governments and policymakers usually focus on the wasted and other kinds of those considered malnourished, little focus is given to obesity in places like the Philippines, a traditionally undernourished Asian nation.


The 2007 Census of Population of Housing (CPH) said that in Davao City, for example, there were only an estimated 13,241 obese from a total number of 454,212 estimated young adults. Around this time, there were around 1.4 million Dabawenyos residing in the city.

The numbers mean that from around 500,000 young adults, there was a 2.92% prevalence of obesity.

Remember that this is only referring to young adults, a mere segment of the total population of the time.

Moreover, note that this was 10 years ago, with the numbers expected to have risen over the years.

A study by Marie Joy F. Lopez of the University of the Philippines-Los Banos (UPLB) published by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) said that from 1993 to 2013 alone, there was already a 50% jump in the rate of obesity, from 16.6% in 1993 to 31.1%, citing data from the National Nutrition Council.

But where are we really, where obesity counts?

As far as the local government is concerned, obesity is a smaller segment of its malnutrition battle.

While pioneering a method that addresses malnutrition in a non-emergency setup, the City Health Office has implemented a measure that addresses malnutrition in its high-population areas.

As early as 2013, the local government has used an internationally recognized method in combatting undernutrition and wastage, with success stories numbering scores of formerly undernourished children.

The move is supported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), with the program successful in moving the malnourished, mostly children, out of their situation.

That said, obesity remains a factor to high-risk diseases, such as CVD or cardio-vascular disease and diabetes.

An earlier Unicef, World Health Organization (WHO), and Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) study showed that the Philippines joins countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand in having a huge rise in instances of obesity as early as 20 years ago.

 These include children younger than five.

The same study attributed the possible rise of obesity to economic growth, but the health concerns remain.

But this isn’t to say that there are no measures, however small the steps.

In the hallowed halls of the local government naps a measure that aims to require food establishments to serve, as a minimum, a half cup of rice.

The measure has been filed at the city council and is currently on the committee level at the committee of agriculture.

While on the surface an ordinance aiming to reduce rice wastage, the proposed ordinance unknowingly zeroes in on rice consumption as one of the culprits of unhealthy eating – the excess consumption of food such as rice.

The City Transport and Traffic Management Office, meanwhile, will be requiring pedestrians to walk over the nearest pedestrian overpasses and lanes, as well as proceed to designated stops however far these are, in its implementation of the Traffic Code starting this week.

The Department of Public Works and Highways, meanwhile, has refurbished sidewalks to be more pedestrian and PWD-friendly.

While not directly addressing obesity, these measures “encourage” walking, a primary basic in the promotion of a healthy, active lifestyle.

All these should be paired with a healthy diet.

With these in mind, the local government is trying to lower the numbers of obesity incidence, a calorie and pound at a time.

(The first week of September of every year is the Obesity Prevention and Awareness Week).

Posted in Lifestyle