Use ‘sin tax’ in health drive–solons

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INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Concerned over surveys that showed Filipinos were eating more meat and chicken and less fruit and vegetables, lawmakers have suggested that part of the revenue raised from “sin taxes” be used to boost a healthy lifestyle campaign.

Sen. Gregorio Honasan said data compiled by the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) from national nutrition surveys conducted from 1978 to 2008 merely confirmed fears of the poor food choices made by Filipinos in the face of urbanization and changing lifestyles.

“There are a lot 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 House committee on health, shared Honasan’s concerns as she noted that chronic diseases had “alarmingly increased.” She blamed this on Filipino eating habits and a growing sedentary lifestyle “wherein people take a tricycle even for short distances.”

Garin said the government has to step up its awareness campaign on having a healthy lifestyle and eating habits.

She proposed that part of the revenue raised from the recently approved sin tax hike, or levies on cigarettes and alcohol products, be diverted to this information campaign.

“The impact of these diseases should not be underestimated. Exercise, healthy eating with the inclusion of fruits and vegetables, plus adequate sleep should be encouraged,” said Garin in a text message.

NSCB Secretary General Jose Ramon Albert said his agency’s report, released Dec. 30, showed that Filipinos ate an average of 58 grams of meat products a day in 2008, up 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 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.

In the same period, the eating of 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.

The same report showed Filipinos eating 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).

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 from 1990 to 2006.

Albert said that in the 1980s, heart disease was 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?”  he asked, noting an alarming increase in cancer among the top five leading causes of death in the country.

“While this may be partly an issue of better identification of cancer, it also may suggest something about our nutrition and lifestyle choices.”

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  • ah_ok_fine12

    fruits and vegetables  is good but skilled workers, who work longer hours and requires physical hardworks would prefer heavy meals to keep them going.

  • generalproblem

    hehehe bakit di nyo pababain ang presyo ng mga gulay at prutas saka isda bago kayo magtatalak. mga inutil na politician puro papogi. kung mahirap ako dina ako bibili ng prutas at gulay dahil mas mahal kesa sa isang kilong baboy na madami na makakain kapag sinabawan

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/IQJOAMRIAPWFW6K45TTVO54P3M Penta

      Tama. Katulad sa’min dito sa probinsya ang mahal ng gulay kaysa isda at karne. Kung ika ang mamimili, pupunta kapa ba doon sa gulay? siyempre, sa karne kana. Feeling ko hindi masyadong effective yung sinusuggest nina Honasan for now. Siguro maganda gaya ng sinabi mo kung iisip sila ng paraan para mapababa yung presyo ng gulay at prutas. Para yung mga kapos sa budget maattract sila sa mga healthy foods. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1405060221 Fearless Gara

    sadly,kaya mas marami ang bilang ng may sakit na hypertension eh.ok lng sa mayayaman e marami pangpagamot pano kung mahirap kana di ka pa magingat sa kalusugan mo. pag nakgkasakit wl Problema pag namatay problema pa pamPalibing. 

  • jga94

    if indeed the main purpose of the sin tax bill is to raise revenues for the ambitious Universal health program, baka nga kulang pa yung projected taxes para dito….one of the first steps towards achieving universal health program is to try to enroll as many Filipinos into Philhealth tapos yung pinakamahihirap nating mga mamamayan, the govt will sponsor their enrollment….tapos yung masalimuot ay they will try to convince all doctors–including private ones and pvt hospitals to agree to a set standard of how much their services are worth…parang ganoon…parang yung health systems sa Canada, Australia, UK…ganoon ata….pretty ambitious….

  • Carum Al Dumal

    I wish my brother, who lives in a wealthy neighborhood south of Manila would read this and eat more veggies. I had to whip up a salad to get my greens. Even offered some to my bro but he did not take even a bite. 

    • DOUANE

      Just send him the link of this article. Hehe.

      • Carum Al Dumal

         Change comes from within. It is difficult to shape someone else’s habit. If the cost of red meat becomes too expensive, perhaps change will come –  kind of like raising the price of gasoline – and people start using public transport instead of using their cars.

      • DOUANE

        True. I also think that, based on personal experience, eating habits need to be set at the earliest possible time. I started eating veggies at a very young age JUST because I saw my parents did so. Although I am guilty of eating red meat and disliking white meat (chicken breast in particular) you won’t see me avoid vegetables, cooked or raw. I actually love to eat anything. Hehe. 

  • DOUANE

    This is very evident especially in our family. Even my lola who has had several heart attacks won’t stop eating more meat and less veggies despite her medical condition. The kids always leave the veggies (let’s say in a stew) in their plates and you won’t expect them to be anywhere near salads. Anything fried, salty and oily is what they like the most. 

  • NAGMAMARUNONG

    put in place subsidies especially petroleum products for fishermen and farmers. remove market brokers too- this will bring down food costs.

  • Your_King

    Hopefully the ‘sin tax’ generated funds can be used for the betterment and the improvement of Filipino lives, in particular a more healthy lifestyle. Actually, it would be great if the generated revenue be used for useful things that directive affect in a good way the entire Philippines opposed to it being used for the political ambitions of the Administration and their supporters.  

  • Carum Al Dumal

    We need to create our version of Jamie Oliver (celebrity chef from the UK) who revolutionized school lunches in the UK and the USA. Healthy eating starts early – when we are still kids. It is difficult to unlearn bad habits.

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