Thursday, August 14, 2008

Obesity in Puerto Rico

Did you know that roughly 65% of the population of Puerto Rico is obese? According to a recent study I read in the local paper (note: it's in Spanish) an estimated 97% of those living in the Island of Echantment will encounter weight-related health problems by 2025. Eating fast food, having a sedentary lifestyle, and owning a car, among many other factors, makes it quite difficult to be healthy. In the battle of the bulges, the U.S is probably the first country which comes to mind, but Puerto Rico is actually much worse. In fact, having an obesity rate of 30.6% makes the U.S look skinny.

If you've ever visited Puerto Rico, you'll easily recognize this problem of obesity. Unfortunately, I don't think people realize the consequences of being heavy. Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and respiratory problems, are just some of the life-threatening illnesses which may result from being obese. Obviously, adopting a healthy lifestyle does require a lot of effort and discipline. Sadly, hardly anyone ever walks here. Moreover, many people prefer to undergo gastric bypass surgery. Recently, the local government passed a law which actually requires health insurance companies to cover this procedure. Isn't it sad when people choose to go under the knife, instead of just eating less and excercising more?

Many things in life are easier said than done, I agree. However, one would think, each and everyone of us is responsible for our own health. Sadly, the truth of the matter is, obesity has become a serious public health issue throughout the world. Childhood obesity is especially of utmost concern. Roughly 30% of children and adolescents living in Puerto Rico suffer from weight problems. I suppose it would help if they have role models to look up to, not to mention spending more time off the couch. Watching the Olympics every night has left me inspired, especially seeing Michael Phelps work his magic. I sure hope that many others are inspired by him and start being more active!

(Photo Credit: Carla D. Martínez/El Nuevo Día)


Anonymous said...

I noticed this 2 years ago on vacation. I was even more shocked to see pre-teens bloated to shameful levels, and toddlers not far behind.

I attributed it to the tasty foods and poor health awareness in the population. This must change and fast!

Dr. Korman said...

I hear such concerning news from all over the world. It might not be far fetched to call obesity as a "worldwide epidemic".
We, here in LA are facing similar problems and our statistics are not good either. More the 35% of adults here are considered overweight, but childhood obesity is also a concerning factor.
I'm a strong believer that this issue should be addressed at its roots, by educating people about the risks, and there are plenty of them. Changes have to be made in the mentality of parents and schools as well, and yes, we need those role models to inspire a healthy lifestyle.
Gastric bypass surgery should not be considered as an easy way of losing weight. However, for morbidly obese people this might be the only option to reduced the comorbid conditions associated with obesity.