Today, too many of us are in the habit of eating for taste only. We do not take seriously our medical condition or longevity. On a regular basis, many of us consume unhealthy foods and sweetened beverages.
Few of us eat fruits, vegetables or whole grain foods on a regular basis. Public health officials have constantly warned us that unhealthy eating habits, especially by children, could have serious long-term consequences on our lives. It is very alarming and perhaps disturbing to learn that a large number of children in the country, some as young as two years old are obese.
Many who are older suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure, high levels of cholesterol and several other Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDS). Health professionals continue to grapple with the epidemic of NCDs in the country.
It is rather unfortunate that some parents do not see anything wrong with their children being obese because in society, large babies are considered cute and healthy while smaller babies are seen as being unhealthy or starved. It is the responsibility of parents to introduce their children to healthy eating from birth. They should pay strict attention to the foods their children eat daily because most children get most of their calories from sugary drinks and processed foods. Whereas, fruits, vegetables and other nutritious delicacies such as fish and eggs, are considered more nourishing for children.
Dr. Mark Hyman, founder and medical director of the Ultra-Wellness Center in Massachusetts, has stated that “Food is not just about calories, it is information. It talks to your DNA and tells it what to do. The most powerful tool to change your health, environment and the entire world is your fork.”
This quotation encapsulates the message that parents should not only monitor what their children eat on a daily basis, but also encourage them to eat healthy.
However, in Guyana, people have their own misconceptions about healthy eating. For example, there are those who believe that diabetes is caused by sugar only and therefore they think that they can consume as much carbohydrates as possible. This is based on their belief that their grandparents were healthy because they ate ground provisions which are loaded with starch. The public needs to be educated on how starch breaks down into sugar and therefore consuming a large quantity would result in an increase in blood sugar levels.
Obesity is of great concern to health officials in the country. It is estimated that obesity rates among the citizens have climbed substantially between 2002 and 2016. Data obtained from the Ministry of Health shows that 27 percent of boys, age seven to 15 years and 33 percent of girls in the same age group are overweight. This is about two in three youths.
Three out of every five deaths in the country are attributed to NCDs such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension and diabetes, all of which are related to obesity.
Obesity has become a huge problem and the authorities must take drastic measures to reduce or eradicate these lifestyle diseases which continue to negatively impact the country’s health resources and the economy in terms of downtime in productivity. Increased physical activity and a proper diet could play a significant role in reducing obesity and hence NCDs in the country. However, education is needed to make people aware of the dangers of obesity and other NCDs. They should also incorporate daily exercise into their lifestyle.
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