Obesity, defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation, is a disease that leads to life-altering and potentially fatal consequences. It is the gateway to heart disease, various types of cancer, and diabetes.
Six out of 12 obesity-related cancers are rising fastest among the millennial age group. In the Philippines alone, 33.2 million individuals live with this disease.
One in three adult Filipinos has obesity. These cases are clustered in urban areas, namely Metro and Mega Manila, Cebu and Central Visayas and Davao and Northern Mindanao.
Filipino society does not handle obesity issues well. Overweight individuals often receive comments like “tumaba ka” or “magpapapayat ka nga.” These weight-related biases are an example of the stigma that people with obesity face every day, all of which contribute to feelings of depression.
This results in individuals with low self-esteem and poor body image, and who are less inclined to find solutions and support.
The Philippines is now recognized as having the longest lockdown in the world.
Research has shown a correlation between obesity and mental health problems. Published data documents a 55 percent increased risk of developing depression over time in people with obesity, while people who were depressed had a 58 percent increased risk of developing obesity.
Obesity increases the risk of developing severe Covid-19 symptoms and triples the risk of requiring hospitalization. Additionally, an individual with obesity may have an impaired immune system and decreased lung capacity, which can make ventilation more difficult.
The Philippines is now recognized as having the longest lockdown in the world. The limitations on mobility minimize physical activity, with most citizens working from home. Coupled with stress and boredom from the constant confinement, these conditions contribute to an increase in food intake.