MANILA, December 9, 2005
 (STAR) "Sweet moment on the lips, forever on the hips" is a saying that most people are familiar with. With Christmas and New Year just around the corner, it will take a great amount of control and discipline not to eat all those goodies that come with the holiday festivities.

Today, there are more Filipinos who are on the heavy side and the threat of obesity is beginning to show among the young and old alike. These were the findings of various medical studies conducted in the Philippines by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

A study on the Body Mass Index revealed that in 1987, there was a 12 percent prevalence of overweight Filipinos with two percent of them obese.

In 1993, there was an increase of 13.5 percent of overweights and three percent obese individuals. Five years later, the figure jumped to 16.5 percent and another one percent for those suffering from obesity. But then in 2003, the figures dramatically increased to 24 percent and five percent, respectively.

"As the eating habits and diet of Filipinos get to be like those of affluent Western countries and the seeming fondness for junk food increases, we see a lot of our countrymen accumulating unwanted inches and pounds which put them at risk for certain types of diseases," says Nenita Umali, weight management dietitian and section manager of the St. Lukeís Weight Management Center.

Tagged as a "one-stop shop" in weight management, the center is in its second year of operation. It is the only hospital-based center of its kind complete with a multidisciplinary team composed of physician specialists, dietitians, behavioral psychologist/psychiatrist and nurses. It even has its own gym where patients can exercise under the supervision of physical therapists.

People should always bear in mind that carrying around those extra kilos of fat in oneís body not only undermines oneís self esteem but also poses numerous health risks.

An overweight or obese individual is a sure candidate for arthritis, gout and some types of cancer. Sleep apnea, a serious condition where breathing slows down during sleep, is often worsened by excessive weight.

Lately, there has been an emergence of obesity among Filipino children. Childhood obesity predicts adult obesity and about one-third to two-thirds of obese children become obese adults.

At the center, the patient, together with weight management consultants, sets realistic weight loss goals. The initial goal is usually set at five to 10 percent of the patientís weight with an equivalent of about one- to two-pound loss per week.

Factors to be considered when setting the goal include metabolism, psychological profile and age. It is easier for young people to lose weight when compared to older ones.

Men can easily lose unwanted fats compared to women, especially the menopausal ones whose metabolism has slowed down considerably.

As Umali pointed out, losing weight is a combination of exercise and dieting. Moderation is the key. Choosing the right food will help lengthen oneís life. When hunger pangs set in, drink lots of water; it is the cheapest way to lose weight.

With the rounds of parties during the coming holidays, the temptation to binge will always be there. For the chocoholics, eating a bar or a piece of dark chocolate is a no-no when one is dieting. Itís the same thing with sodas. Always remember that eight ounces of soft drink contain six tablespoonfuls of sugar.

"We are proud to say that we have a good number of patients who have successfully undergone our programs and have not gained back those lost pounds. They have now a healthy lifestyle, which allows them to feel confident with the way they look and feel about themselves," says Umali, who has the numbers to prove it.

For more information, call the St. Lukeís Weight Management Center at 723-0101 local 5209.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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