Being Overweight and What to do About Obesity

Being overweight increases your chances of disease

The 7th National Nutrition Survey (NNS) conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) in the Philippines found that 27 in every 100 Filipino adults are overweight and obese based on body mass index (BMI) classification.

The survey found that overweight and obese are highest in adults 40 to 59 years old.

The prevalence of overweight and obese is constantly increasing from 16.6 percent in 1993 to 20.2 percent in 1998, 24.0 percent in 2003 and 26.6 percent in 2008.

Moreover, the survey reported data on lifestyle behaviors that may affect the well-being of the population such as smoking, alcohol drinking, and physical activities: (a) three in every 10 Filipinos adults smoke cigarettes at an average of 10 sticks per day, (b) three in every 10 Filipino adults drink alcoholic beverages, with gin and beer topping the list, and (c) only 7 in 100 Filipino adults are engaged in vigorous exercises at least three to four times a week.

Poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, alcohol intake and smoking are behavioral risk factors that may be modified to delay if not prevent the onset of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, abnormal lung function, and dyslipidemia or abnormal lipid levels in the blood.

In fact, the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) identified the key components of a healthy lifestyle namely, healthy diet, regular exercise, abstinence from smoking and moderate alcohol intake.

The FNRI recommends a balanced diet comprising of a variety of food. The food guide pyramid shows the recommended daily servings of the different food groups for different age groups. The graphical illustration of the Food Pyramid can be viewed at the FNRI website.

The NGF warrants the importance of regular exercise. However, adults 40 years and over with known risk factors need to get a medical clearance before starting an exercise regimen.

Regular physical activity promotes weight control and weight maintenance, toned muscles and firm skin. It also improves blood circulation and increases efficiency of the heart and lungs. Walking, taking the stairs, and doing household chores are examples of simple forms of exercises.

On smoking, the NGF says the best rule is never to start smoking because once the habit is established, giving up smoking is not easy.

If alcoholic beverages are consumed, it should be taken in moderation. Moderate alcohol consumption means no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.

The following portions are equal to one alcohol equivalent providing 20 cubic centimeters (cc) ethanol providing about 200 calories: 1 ½ ounces (oz) distilled beverage such as gin; 12 oz or 360 cc or 1 bottle of beer; 4 oz of 120 cc or ½ glass of wine; or 1 oz or 30 cc or 1 jigger of 100 proof whiskey.

The changing lifestyle of Filipinos may increase chronic degenerative diseases but these may be prevented by good nutrition, regular exercise, not smoking and avoiding alcoholic beverages.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City. E-mail: or Telefax: 837-2934 and 827-3164, or call: 8372071 local 2296 or visit our website: (Czarina Teresita S. Martinez, FNRI-DOST S & T Media Service/PIA-Caraga)

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