Monday, March 15, 2010

Obesity in Numbers

The cover of this past Saturday's edition of the island's most widely read newspaper, El Nuevo Día, read "Cada día más gordos" (translation: "Everyday more Fat People"). The title of the main article was "Una isla de obesos" (translation: "An Island of the Obese"). The rhetoric sounds dramatic and unsophisticated for a major news publication, but it paints an accurate picture of the situation we face on the island. Here are some alarming statistics published in the article:
  • 80% of Puerto Rico's population will be obese in 2040
  • 42% of Puerto Rico's population currently obese or in danger of being obese
  • 32% of children in Puerto Rico who are 4 to 22 months old who are obese
Exact details of how and when this study was conducted were not provided. However, the source of these statistics is said to be from a local health organization, Alianza para Niños y Jóvenes Saludables, Activos y Bien Nutridos. I've written about this issue before in an earlier blog post, in which I came across a different set of statistics. Regardless of the discrepancies in these figures, obesity is now considered to be an epidemic problem on the island.

Eating healthy is difficult and costly in Puerto Rico, as I've also mentioned in a previous post. Purchasing fruit and vegetables can be quite expensive, as the island imports most of its foodstuffs. Fast food chains are cheap and pervasive. Furthermore, if the island had more green, open areas for people to walk, run or bike, I believe it would motivate people to lead more active lifestyles. Unfortunately, the local government has not done enough to raise awareness of the obesity problem. With a sinking health care system, the island cannot afford to have an ailing population.

(Image above obtained from El Nuevo Día)


Anonymous said...

This right on the mark. I have to drive to areas where I can walk, run, or work out.

When I see parents lined up at David's Cookies to buy their children sugary and fatty treats, I cringe.

PR seems to have a culture of showing affection by providing unhealthy but tasty foods.

When will it end.....?

adriana said...

Hello anonymous,

Yes, unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to live without a car on the island. Besides parque central, in the San Juan metro area, there aren't many large, open spaces with running or walking trails.

Thanks for your comment!

Kofla Olivieri said...

Puerto Rico's obesity problem is a reflection of a growing trend affecting the United States.

In my opinion the government is not concerned. Their main focus is getting re-elected! Saludos!

YaryG said...

These sort of statistics really anger me. How are Puerto Ricans expected to be a healthy weight if theres a Church's Chicken and Burger King at every corner?!

During colonial days the Catholic Church was the epicenter of each Puerto Rican pueblo. Nowadays, that epicenter has become the 24-hr McDonalds.

Puerto Rico is a primary example of the effects of globalization... and its SICK!

I wish they would ban all fast food places.

Anonymous said...

Just because they're there doesn't mean people have to eat at them. Have you been past Krispy Kreme lately? It's an educational problem and an abdication of responsibilities on the part of parents, family doctors and pediatricians and the schools. People can create demand for more healthy foods, people can create a cultural shift, schools can stop serving junk in the canteens.