Philippines one of Asia’s most unhealthy countries – study
(The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines is still one of the unhealthiest countries in Asia, lagging behind India, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Based on a survey by pan-Asian insurance giant AIA Group, the Philippines scored 61 out of 100, below the regional average of 64. It is tied for ninth overall with Korea, India and Singapore.

The Philippine American Life and General Insurance Co. (Philam Life) is an AIA subsidiary.

Intuit Research director Thomas Isaac said that the Philippines actually ranked lower this year compared with similar surveys in 2011 and 2013. Hong Kong-based Intuit Research was tapped by AIA to undertake the regional survey.

“Scores in the Philippines have practically remained static,” Isaac said in a press presentation yesterday. “It received a score of 63 in the 2011 survey and 61 in the 2013 survey.”

The Philippines has not only remained below the regional average of 64.

“Eighty percent of adults in the Philippines are not really satisfied with their health,” the author said, adding that the survey was conducted face to face with 764 Filipinos.

Forty-four percent of adults are overweight due mainly to insufficient exercise and poor food habits, but only 25 percent would like to lose weight.

Seventy-four percent of adults claim to exercise regularly. But on average, adults in the Philippines exercise only 2.1 hours a week, lower than the regional average of three hours and well below what most experts would recommend.

Unhealthy eating habits are common as 84 percent of those surveyed said they tend to eat while distracted, 81 percent admitted to eating unhealthy snacks between meals and 71 percent had their dinners close to bed time.

“Attempts to eat healthier are still restricted to the basics of drinking more water and eating more fruits and vegetables,” Isaac lamented.

The survey cemented fears that Internet addiction will emerge as a modern day threat to healthy living.

“Though Internet adoption is still lower in the Philippines relative to some other markets in the region, Internet and smartphone use are growing rapidly and social networking is extremely popular among those who are online,” he said.

Adults in the Philippines spend 1.1 hours a day on the Internet for non-work purposes, much lower than the regional average of three hours.

However, those who spend time online are aware of its negative impact on health: less time for sleep (48 percent), less time for exercise (46 percent) and bad for their posture (47 percent).

Fifty-two percent of Filipino adults even admit to being addicted to spending time online, slightly lower than the regional average of 57 percent.

Currently, 30 percent of Filipino parents admit their children don’t get enough exercise and 22 percent said their children do not get enough sleep. Too much time spent watching TV, playing video games or being online are the main culprits.

Unless parents and schools promote exercise and restrict screen time, there will be challenges to the younger generation’s health.

There are very high levels of concerns about many health conditions, all much higher than the regional averages.

The main health concerns are heart disease, having a stroke, diabetes, respiratory illnesses, being bedridden/wheelchair bound and cancer.

A significant number of adults admit to having concerns about mental well-being such as Alzheimer’s/senility, anxiety and depression.

“But despite their many health concerns, only 50 percent had a medical checkup in the past year, down in fact from previous years (58 percent in 2011 and 54 percent in 2013). Employers should help their employees get health checkups, including giving them sufficient time off to do so,” the AIA survey said.

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