The rise in obesity among children is an issue that demands the government’s attention, Taiwan Obesity Prevention Association director-general Liao Kuo-dong (廖國棟) said at the group’s inaugural meeting yesterday.
Liao, who is also a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator, said the group will seek to have legislation on national nutrition and its implementation passed, as obesity among children is now a national problem, is “no less urgent than those of the aging population and low birth rate.”
National Health Insurance’s (NHI) data showed that in the four years from 2005 to 2008, 21,689 people sought medical attention for obesity-related diseases, costing the NHI more than NT$240 billion (US$7.89 billion), said Liu Pou-en (劉伯恩), a doctor who specializes in treating obesity.
“By 2020, it is estimated, about one-third of the NHI budget will be used for treating obesity-related diseases,” which include cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, osteoarthritis, diabetes, hypertension and certain types of cancers, he added.
Health Promotion Administration Deputy Director-General Yu Li-hui (游麗惠) said that the agency has joined the WHO in its aim to reduce premature mortality from non-communicable diseases by 25 percent by 2025.
Obesity prevention plays a crucial role in reaching this goal, Yu said.
“In order to achieve the goal, targets such as reductions in sodium intake, raised blood pressure and physical inactivity have been set,” she added.
Familiarizing people through education about healthy diets, calories and how to lose weight in healthy ways can help people control their weight, Liu said.
Citing a survey he has conducted within his diet clinic, Liu said that many people have little knowledge of the amount of calories in some commonly consumed food products.
“An improper diet can have a damaging effect on health, as well as an effect on weight. Possible side effects include hair loss, menstrual disorders and heart palpitations,” he said.
“People should take note of the calories they consume and increase daily physical activity by walking up stairs instead of taking the elevator or standing up to move around after a period of sitting,” Liu said.
The association has set up a Line account (0988-906-633) which people can use to send photographs of the meals they are having to calculate the calories.
Those in need can call or send pictures during meal times to be informed about the amount of calories consumed and how to avoid excessive intake, the association.