The Flab Scuffle

(and DiabetEASE on Flip Side of H&L)

Time was when being chubby and overweight for children and young adults was even considered a hallmark of affluence and good health. It was a myth then that atherosclerosis only occurred in adulthood, so young people need not worry about it and they could indulge in whatever food they wanted.

Now, we know better, and realize that it can already be pathological to be overweight and obese even in children, wherein the incidence of metabolic syndrome has been alarmingly increasing in our country and many parts of the world.

For this issue of H&L, we’re highlighting overweight and obesity, as a significant cardiovascular risk factor that needs to be addressed. Fortunately for us, we have the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight and Obesity (PASOO), which have been doing continuing local researches to come up with local data on this problem. These data, alongside with foreign researches and clinical trials, can help our local experts draft locally attuned guidelines and recommendations on how to curb this fleshy aberration which can easily transform into a monstrous risk factor that can contribute to cardiovascular disease and premature death.

PASOO is now celebrating its silver anniversary with an impressive track record as the vanguard of a healthy lifestyle to maintain an ideal body weight and lead the scuffle against excess flab. Like the true visionary that he is, Dr. Augusto D. Litonjua, who is also acknowledged as the ‘Father’ of Philippine Endocrinology, cofounded it together with several others who shared the same apprehension of a looming obesity epidemic in the country.

At that time—in the 90s—undernutrition and being underweight, not excess weight, was the prevalent problem in the country especially among children. But Dr. Litonjua and his team saw it coming with the trend to patronize fast-food chains; and the advent of devices and gadgets which people enjoyed while lazily lying on their couch—contributing to a sedentary lifestyle.

We were going exactly the same trend as our Caucasian counterparts, and it was just a matter of time that we started showing the excess flab and intra-abdominal (visceral) fat that has been linked to various cardiometabolic complications including atherogenic type of dyslipidemia (normal LDL-cholesterol, low HDL-cholesterol, high triglycerides); increased apolipoprotein B (a potent marker of atherogenicity) together with increased small, dense LDL particles; insulin resistance, hypercoagulable or prothrombotic state and increased inflammatory markers.

The PASOO is certainly doing its best to educate the public on the perils of obesity, particularly that characterized by increased visceral fat. But despite all their efforts, experts like Dr. Litonjua still believe that more barriers especially misinformation need to be convincingly addressed. The message does not seem to have sunk in completely, yet. “Just by observing people at the mall, one can see fat parents with their fat kids,” laments Dr. Litonjua.

This is the reason why PASOO is tying up with various groups—governmental and nongovernmental organizations to make sure that their key messages to prevent being overweight and obese, and maintain one’s ideal body weight really get to their key target audiences, in a manner that could be readily understood and remembered like the Food Pyramid and the Healthy Plate which PASOO co-designed with the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

The battle against the bulge really requires a multi-specialty and multi-sectoral effort to get to the bottom of where the problem originates— and that is within every household, on every family dining table.

May the healthcare community and the public seriously weigh in on the problem of overweight and obesity, and decide to make a serious commitment to curb these and their attendant cardiometabolic complications.

Since overweight and obesity are strongly linked with the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus, it is an opportune occasion to announce the good news that starting this issue, our regular readers will be given a double treat. DiabeTEASE, our magazine for diabetics and others who are at risk of developing this disease, now comes with every issue of H&L on its flip side.

With noted endocrinologist Dr. Joy C. Fontanilla as its editor-in-chief, we can expect up-to-date information and updates on how we can prevent diabetes if we’re at risk of developing it, or how to prevent its micro- and macrovascular complications, if we already have this metabolic problem.

DiabeTEASE helps patients and their respective families realize that being diagnosed with diabetes is not anything close to getting a death sentence. One can still enjoy living life to the fullest, empowered by the necessary knowledge on how to control one’s blood sugar and other risk factors that may come with it.

Our goal is to help ease the mental burden of diabetics. They hear and read about all sorts of complications of their disease and that worries them a lot. Understanding their disease and knowing how to cope with it and prevent complications give them some confidence and reinforce a positive mindset that it’s not that bad after all.

May you enjoy reading this double treat!

God bless always.


July 2018 Health and Lifestyle

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