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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

One in every two children from age five in Brunei is overweight


ONE in every two children from the age of five is either overweight or obese in Brunei, the minister of health said in a message to mark World Obesity Day 2016.

Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Hj Zulkarnain Hj Hanafi said being overweight and obese have “seemingly become the new normal” among children.

He said obesity among schoolchildren in Brunei increased to 18 per cent in 2014 from 12 per cent in 2008.

“This means that obesity rises by one per cent every year. If this issue is unresolved, every single child in Brunei could potentially be obese in the near future.

“As a result of obesity, it is entirely possible that our children may have a shorter life span than their parents,” added the minister.

He said obese children in Brunei are increasingly being diagnosed with a range of health conditions that are mostly seen only in adults. Some examples include Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and sleep disorders such as having breathing difficulty during sleep, known as sleep apnea.

“It is also worrying that some children have even died at a very young age from heart attacks,” the minister said.

YB Dato Dr Zulkarnain said childhood obesity may also affect their emotional and mental wellbeing.

“Overweight and obese children are more likely to be bullied, feel socially isolated, have a high risk of depression and may experience high stress and anxiety levels.

“Unfortunately, obesity in children and youth do not go away as they grow older. In fact, most people continue to gain weight as they age and obese children become obese adults,” he added.

With 62 per cent of adults in Brunei overweight and obese, the minister said it is a problem that cannot be ignored.

He said less than five per cent of children eat the recommended serving of five portions of fruits and vegetables a day.

Moreover, 40 per cent of children aged five to nine drink sugar-sweetened beverages or soft drinks every day, while eating a lot of fast food at the same time.

“We should encourage our children to care about what they eat and how to treat their bodies well such as not to take a lot of sugar and being more active. Being involved in fun exercises will uplift moods and eating healthily can make them grow into a healthy adult.

“Children should (also) learn how important fruits and vegetables are to their growth and health in the long term. It is also crucial for them to understand that water is better to quench their thirst than sugary drinks,” added the minister.

Speaking on the World Obesity Day 2016 theme of ‘Ending Childhood Obesity’, the minister said obesity prevention and treatment require a “whole-of-nation approach” in which policies across all sectors take health into account. “We need to do something about this situation urgently. Unfortunately, for those seeking a magic pill, no single intervention can cure this. Instead of obesity, we want to change the conversation and make being healthy normal again.”

YB Dato Dr Hj Zulkarnain added that Brunei is beginning to see the first signs of change for the better.

“Head down to Tasek Lama in Bandar Seri Begawan on a late afternoon to see it filled with families hiking and walking together. Even the street vendors are increasingly aware of reducing sugar in drinks, and more and more people are asking for healthy options in restaurants and supermarkets. “Health is everyone’s business and every individual needs to take responsibility for their own health and wellbeing. Any individual intervention for an obese or overweight child will not work without the full support of the family including parents, grandparents and caregivers,” he added.

He said parents in particular play a crucial role as children learn and follow parents’ behaviours.

“If parents are eating a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, drinking water rather than sweetened beverages and exercising regularly, then children will be encouraged to do the same.”

The minister advised members of the public to take action to improve the health of their family and themselves through physical activities or reducing their intake of unhealthy food and drinks.

“On World Obesity Day, no matter what your weight or where you are at your journey, promise yourself one action that you and your family can take to live healthier lives for the year. Make sure that you can measure this action and tell others what your health goal for the year is.

“This could simply be walking 10,000 steps a day, or cutting out sugary drinks from your diet. It could be replacing dessert with a piece of fruit. Encourage others to do the same. No matter who you are, or how much time you have, let us all do our own part and together we can build a healthier Brunei Darussalam,” said the minister. — Julius Hong

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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