Filipinos urged to eat more fruits, veggies, lessen meat intake
MANILA, Philippines–Lawmakers are concerned that Filipinos are eating more meat and chicken and less fruits and vegetables based on a government study covering 30 years.
Senator Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II said the data compiled by the National Statistical Coordination Board from national nutrition surveys made from 1978 to 2008 merely confirmed fears of the poor food choices made by the Filipinos in the face of their changing environment.
“There are lots of factors why Filipinos eat less fruits and vegetables and more meat and poultry and one of them is the mass migration to urban centers and the stress of a city lifestyle during the last three decades. Lifestyles have changed and sadly, our nutrition has taken a big hit for it,” said Honasan.
Honasan, vice chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, said the government should take a more active role in reminding the public about the benefits of keeping a balanced diet and active lifestyle.
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, vice chair of the committee on health, shared Honasan’s concerns as she noted that chronic diseases have “alarmingly increased” which she blamed on the country’s eating habits and sedentary lifestyle “wherein people take a tricycle even for short distances.”
NSCB secretary general Jose Ramon Albert said that his agency’s report, released December 30, showed that Filipinos ate an average of 58 grams of meat products a day in 2008, up by 152 percent from 23 grams in 1978. Filipinos are also eating more chicken at an average of 25 grams per day in 2008, up from 7 grams in 1978.
“With these observed increases, it is thus not surprising that increases were likewise observed in fats and oil consumption, which increased by 15.4 percent (from 13 grams per day in 1978 to 15 grams in 2008,” said Albert.
The same report showed Filipinos munching fewer vegetables (down 24 percent to 110 grams in 2008 from 145 grams in 1978) and fruits (down 48 percent to 54 grams in 2008 from 104 grams in 1978).
During the same period, fish, which accounts for the bulk of the Filipinos’ diet, increased by 7.8 percent to 110 grams per day in 2008 from 102 grams in 1978.
Albert noted that these distinct changes in food consumption came in tandem with the rise of heart diseases as the primary cause of death in the country starting from 1990 to 2006. Albert said in the 1980s, heart disease was only second to pneumonia as the main cause of mortality among Filipinos. “Is this the effect of our preference for high octane food over fruits and veggies?” asked Albert who also noted an alarming increase in cancer among the top 5 leading causes of deaths in the country. “While this may be partly an issue of better identification of cancer, in recent times, but it also may suggest something about our nutrition and lifestyle choices.”
Garin said the government has to step up its awareness campaign on having a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.
“The impact of these diseases should not be underestimated. Exercise, healthy eating with the inclusion of fruits and vegetables plus adequate sleepshould be encouraged,” said Garin in a text message.
Garin proposed that part of the funds to be raised from the recently approved hike in sin taxes should be diverted for this information campaign.