In a newly released report, “Tackling Obesity in Asean: Prevalence, impact and guidance on interventions,” commissioned by the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (Arofiin) produced by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the prevalence of obese and overweight people in the Philippines is seen at 5.1 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively. Despite low prevalence rates, obesity has a strong impact in the Philippines due to the large number of obese persons in the country—18 million Filipinos are obese and overweight. Last year, obesity cost the Philippines between $500 million and $1 billion, or equivalent to from four to eight percent of its health-care spending. “This makes the country the fourth-highest spender in the Asean for obesity-related problems,” the report said. Also, a UNICEF report has shown that obesity in the country has risen by 400 percent from 1992 to 2016.
So much money spent for something preventable. How did it come to this? Despite numerous subjects on health and physical education, clearly some parts of our population neglect their own health, leading to questions about the efficacy of these courses.
Just this week, I was privileged to be involved with the Commission on Higher Education (Ched) Technical Panel for Physical Education. And for the past few months, a need has been seen to change parts of our Physical Education curriculum, the most being the change from PE to PATH-F, from Physical Education but towards Physical Activity Towards Health and Fitness. Hopefully, the goal of PE, which is health for life, will be seen more implicitly with the change in the course title. Also, in the new Physical Education curriculum proposed, there is a clear objective that students must be equipped to make more informed choices with physical activity and even their nutrition. For reference, the World Health Organization suggests 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity throughout the week. One merely needs to look at his weekly activities and see if he matches up.
So what are three simple things we can do consistently to improve our health? Let me write down the simplest:
1. Increase physical activity by walking.
2. Eat real food, vegetables and protein.
3. Sleep well and at least seven hours each night consistently.
Nail those three, and you’re on your way to better health.