As holiday celebrations peak in the last few days of the year, Health Secretary Teodoro Herbosa found it necessary to warn Filipinos of the risks the holiday cheer may bring as the country remains burdened, only with infectious diseases, but more so by what he put as “lifestyle diseases.”
Revelers are reminded to watch their food and alcohol intake to avoid health problems that could stem from the excesses of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. Herbosa urged the public to make healthy choices this Christmas season, as he noted that the top illnesses among Filipinos are still heart diseases, stroke, cancer, and diabetes.
He had earlier advised the public to refrain from “ma” food – which he said stood for “mataba, matamis, maalat,” or those that are fatty, sugary, and salty, as these can heighten the risk of hypertension, cholesterol, and diabetes.
Based on the latest figures of the Philippine Statistics Authority, ischemic heart disease, neoplasms, cerebrovascular diseases, and diabetes were the top four causes of death nationwide from January to May this year. All these are noncommunicable diseases (NCD), often caused by lifestyle and food choices.
Based on World Health Organization data, 80 percent of NCD deaths occur in low-income and middle-income countries, where “pre-existing disease burdens are exacerbated by poverty and resource constraints.” The lack of funding and manpower remains a persistent challenge where the healthcare system is designed to treat, not prevent, such preventable illnesses.
So, as we indulge in the holiday celebrations, let us do so with moderation and self-control, especially those of us who have already been diagnosed and are aware of what needs to be done and avoided in order to avoid further damage to already struggling body parts. It is ok to have some of the good stuff, as long as we don’t overdo it. Continued good health and not incurring costly hospital bills can be our most valuable Christmas present for our loved ones who will be the ones who will have to worry if our lifestyle and lack of self-control leads to these lifestyle diseases that are most definitely preventable.*