Filipino values that promote obesity

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By Dr. Victor Dumaguing

To Your Health

Friday, January 31, 2014


PHILIPPINE society in general, and Filipino parents in particular, are willing participants in the increase in weight as well as the bursting of the zippers of pants and shorts of Filipinos, especially the young ones.

Try to do a random inquiry of parents, whether they are among the so-called filthy rich of secured and guarded exclusive villages down to the makeshift shanties of informal settlers or squatters, as to what is their gauge of wealth and affluence, aside from the more common items like mansions, flashy cars, fat bank account, designer clothes and bags, all will agree that a fat, chubby, bouncing child would complete the picture.

Indeed , the opposite, a thin or even just a lean child or teenager, will be looked at by the scrutinizing eyes of society as someone malnourished or deficient in some nutrients and the root cause of such will zero in on the supposed deprivation and poverty of the family.

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At least, we are now seeing signs that those "values", if indeed, they qualify to be called values in the first place, are changing.
Slowly, the author admits but it is headed towards that direction.

Fortunately, there is now a concerted and cooperative effort of media institutions to spread the slogan, "Hindi lahat ng mataba ay malusog" or "Hindi batayan ng kalusugan ang mabigat na timbang.”

It used to be, that during family reunions or clan gatherings, a chubby or fat child is usually pinched on both cheeks, with a delightful expression from relatives, "Ang taba mo. Ang cute-cute mo! Now, more and more Filipinos know when to correctly use the word "cute."

During our elementary and even high school days, (I am a product of public schools and mighty proud to be one), our physical education classes were literally "physical", involving a lot of movement: running, whole body movements as in folk dancing and more significantly, the pupils and students rotated in groups as homeroom cleaners. So at the end of the day, we moved chairs, tables to sweep the entire floor to be followed by scrubbing with coconut husk until the image of the smile of our contented approving teacher is mirrored on the floor.

Unfortunately, some parents, especially of children enrolled in private and exclusive schools, are upset and even angry at the school administration if they get to know that their son or daughter did some cleaning, reasoning, almost screaming, "We did not send our kids to this school to be janitors."

So with that attitude, you can guess, how things are in their own houses, with a retinue of maids doing practically everything, their beloved children is either curled up in a sofa like a couch potato, with one hand holding a remote control or in front of a computer for hours munching snacks dripping in fat, salt, sugar and preservatives.

In a society like ours, where husband and wife need to work, the pre-school kids are left with the maids. Let's admit the fact that the best way, these maids can make a child behave or keep still is to give them what these kids consider "delicious" or yummy, sweet, fatty, some salt in it to be washed down with soda or soft drinks. Unfortunately, it is difficult to put the word "delicious" and "nutritious" in the same sentence. Anyone?

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 01, 2014.

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