MANILA, Philippines—More Filipino women are battling chronic energy deficiency and obesity than men, according to the latest national nutrition survey.
The study conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute showed that one out of 10 Filipino adults was energy deficient, with more women suffering the condition at 10.5 percent compared to their male counterparts at 9.4 percent.
It also revealed that three out of 10 Filipinos were overweight and obese, with more women falling under the category than men.
The results were from the 8th National Nutrition Survey of the FNRI, which was conducted from June 2013 to April 2014, covering 172,323 individuals from 45,047 households nationwide.
The findings of the study prompted the Philippine Association of Nutrition Inc. (PAN) to urge Filipinos to take seriously the food they eat daily, emphasizing that nutrition has an overall impact on health.
An individual who is energy deficient may have either inadequate food intake, impaired tissue growth, anorexia from intestinal parasitism, anorexia from trace element deficiency or anorexia due to general chronic infection, said PAN president Dr. Gemiliano Aligui in a statement.
To address chronic energy deficiency or CED, Aligui suggested vitamin supplementation to fill the nutritional gap in one’s diet. He said contrary to belief among weight-conscious Filipinos that multivitamins cause weight gain, these supplements could actually make one’s metabolism more efficient.
Discussing the details of his study, titled “Adult energy deficiency: What we should know about vitamins and minerals,” Aligui noted that the body’s metabolic processes are made more efficient when all micronutrients are available in the body.
“Free radicals are better eliminated with a balance of micronutrients such as chromium, zinc, selenium, lithium and vanadium,” said Aligui, also the chair of FNRI’s Institutional Research Ethics Review Committee.
“Contrary to popular belief, taking vitamins actually increases metabolism, which is the process of breaking down food for energy or building body cells and tissues,” he added.
But despite the dismal figures on CED, Aligui noted that the trend in the prevalence of such condition in the country was already decreasing over the last decade from 13.9 percent in 1993 to 10.3 percent in 2013.
What was alarming, the health expert noted, was the surge in the prevalence of Filipinos who are overweight and obese—from 16.6 percent in 1993 to 29.9 percent in 2013.
“So while we are concerned with chronic energy deficiency, overweight and obesity are more problematic,” said Aligui.
The Department of Health has pinned the blame for the growing number of obese Filipinos on their sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy diet, smoking and alcohol use.
Obesity is a risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as heart ailments, cancers and respiratory illnesses, which are the top leading causes of death in the Philippines.
Aligui said one way to deal with this growing health concern was to increase metabolism by taking vitamin supplements, coupled with a balanced diet and regular physical activities or exercise.
The vitamins and minerals that have metabolic benefits include B complex, which helps metabolize carbohydrates, fats and proteins, and iron, which enables tissues to burn fat.
“To boost your metabolism further, eat regularly with light and healthy snacks. Eating breakfast also increases resting metabolism by 10 percent [and] working out in alternate intensity levels lets you burn more fat,” he advised.