2015 nutrition month to focus on obesity

Jodesz Gavilan

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2015 nutrition month to focus on obesity
The National Nutrition Council aims to put the spotlight on the problem of obesity in the Philippines during the National Nutrition Month in July

MANILA, Philippines – The National Nutrition Council (NNC) announced that this year’s Nutrition Month theme will focus on the growing problem of obesity in the Philippines.  

The 2015 Nutrition Month campaign, “Timbang iwasto sa tamang nutrisyon at ehersisyo,” (Correct weight through right nutrition and exercise) aims to make people aware about how they can prevent obesity. This will be done by providing them with adequate information.

July of each year is designated National Nutrition Month by virtue of Presidential Decree No. 491 signed into law in 1974. In 2014, the campaign focused on disasters and their effect on nutrition among Filipinos.

Assistant Secretary of Health and NNC executive director Maria-Bernadita Flores explained that the number of Filipinos suffering from excessive weight has been increasing through the years.

From 1993’s 16.6%, the prevalence of overweight Filipinos rose to 31.1% in 2013. In fact, according to the 8th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI), 3 out of 10 Filipino adults are obese. (READ: What is the nutritional status of Filipinos?)

Obesity has not only affected adults but also children. NNS also found that overweight and obesity prevalence among children is 5%, while for Filipino teenagers, it is 8.3%.

This, besides existing undernutrition, leaves the Philippines with a problem of double burden malnutrition. (READ: Too little, too much: The problem with double burden malnutrition)

Environment is important

According to the FNRI, the prevalence of obesity may be attributed to “high and fast living where lifestyle is sedentary, fast foods are abundant, and planning and preparation of nutritious food for the family is not of prime importance.”

NNC hopes that the theme this July will encourage Filipinos to make better decisions regarding their health.

“The campaign aims to encourage Filipinos to make positive decisions [on] consumption of healthy diets and [to] be physically active to prevent non-communicable diseases as a result of [being] overweight and [obese],” the council said in a statement.

However, the surrounding environment should also be fully supportive. It should promote the kind of lifestyle that could prevent obesity.

An “enabling environment” is needed to attain this, according to the NNC. Consumers should be informed about the nutritional values of the food they consume. In addition, these nutritious food should be accessible and cheap.

It is important to have a community that promotes exercise and other physical activities.

If left unattended, being overweight may result in diseases like diabetes mellitus, heart diseases, and hypertation, NNC warned.

The council is coordinating with several stakeholders – local government units, schools, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector – to further the advocacy and in their own ways, promote an environment that will help prevent obesity. –

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Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and impunity beats, producing in-depth and investigative reports particularly on the quest for justice of victims of former president Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs and war on dissent.