More than 25 percent of adult males in Taiwan are considered obese and nearly 35 percent suffer from metabolic syndrome, the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) said on Sunday.
Obesity and its associated conditions — high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar — have been on the rise for the past 23 years, the agency said.
An agency study examining health changes among the general population from 2013 to 2016 found that chronic diseases related to the metabolic system are more prevalent.
Photo: Wu Liang-yi, Taipei Times
The study — for which 11,000 people were surveyed and 9,700 underwent physical exams — showed that obesity among adult males increased from 10.3 percent in 1993 to 25.3 percent in 2016, while metabolic syndrome increased from 9.8 percent to 34.8 percent and diabetes from 3.3 percent to 11.2 percent.
Researchers attributed the results to general dietary changes, saying that men ate 9.2 servings of high-protein foods, such as beans, meat, fish and eggs, per day — more than the recommended six to seven servings per day.
Men ate 2.3 servings of vegetables per day, instead of the recommended five servings, and only one serving of fruit, instead of the recommended 3.5 servings, the researchers said.
The study showed that a high consumption of sugary beverages likely contributed to the metabolic diseases seen among the men surveyed, with those aged 19 to 44 saying that they consumed at least one sugary beverage daily.
Sugary beverages include soda and other sweet drinks, but can also include milk or coffee, if sugar is added, the agency said.
The effects of exercise and diet on the development of chronic metabolic illnesses have long been understood, and affect men and women equally, Cancer Prevention and Control Division Director Wu Chien-yuan (吳建遠) said.
The prevalence of unbalanced diets and excessive consumption of sugar, salt and oil are due to the hectic pace of modern work environments, where eating out is often the only option, Wu said.
Another issue that has emerged as the result of unbalanced diets is widespread vitamin D and E deficiencies, which are important for dissolving fat, Wu said, adding that calcium deficiencies are also common.
Conversely, excessive consumption of magnesium, zinc, iron and sodium is rising, he said.
The agency hopes to tackle the issue by promoting balanced diets and working with fitness centers to promote exercise, Wu said.
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