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Editorial | Obesity and malnutrition

There is still so much hunger in the world that the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations are focused on curb hunger and poverty-related diseases. Yet, there is an increasing trend towards obesity the world over.

In the Philippines, the National Nutritional Council pegs overweight and obese Filipinos to be 30 percent of the total population aged 31 year s and above. In the Davao region, the figure is higher. Out of 100 persons, 32 are considered overweight and obese.

A study of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology shows the prevalence of urban diet or the diet heavy with processed food, refined sugars and syrups, meats and processed meats, cereals and other cereal products.

There is also a noted decline in fruit and vegetable consumption. Lifestyle also plays a role in this trend.
How can food policies deal with the contradictory goal of curbing malnutrition on one hand and promoting less food demand on the other?

In July 2017, the National Nutrition Program rolled out a campaign to promote a healthy diet in restaurants and eatery. Restaurants and eateries were asked to provide calorie content labels in the menu. The “Nutri-Carenderia” program is part of their advocacy to address the growing number of obesity and overweight cases in the country.

We however think that existing laws that discourage children from consuming junk foods and fast foods should be implemented with diligence, such as the DepEd memo on junk foods in schools. This is a more practical response to the threat of obesity which includes school children.

Our landscape has been overtaken by giant fastfood chains that offer super large servings of food that has drastically changed the Filipino diet. Eating out with friends has been ingrained in the minds of the young rather than eating their meals at home. Eating together at home has become passé in today’s fast-paced lifestyle where activities, including dinner, is done in a hurry.

Our lifestyle is changing and we need to adapt to these changes. But certainly, we should be able to discern how to live our life as healthy and productive as we possibly can.

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