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Poor diets, failing food systems, and lack of physical activity are causing overweight and obesity in children

Sustainable, responsive, resilient and functional food systems can enable better and healthier diets, but while the food systems encompass a range of public and private actors, the role of government is crucial in developing and implementing programs and policies that address the production, distribution, accessibility, and utilization of food in the country.

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With the Philippines suffering from a triple burden of malnutrition together with other forms of undernutrition (including stunting and wasting), micronutrient deficiencies, along with overweight and obesity, the Department of Health (DOH), National Nutrition Council (NNC), FAO, WHO, and UNICEF jointly call upon the public, civil society organizations, academe, and the private sector to take action to prevent and manage childhood overweight and obesity.

According to WHO, overweight and obese children are more likely to stay obese into adulthood and to develop noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and cardiovascular diseases at a younger age. Obese children and adolescents may also suffer from both short-term and long- term health consequences.

Factors contributing to the increasing problem of overweight and obesity include poor diets, inadequate nutrition, and failing food systems. In addition, limited physical activity is likewise contributing to the growing problem on overweight and obesity.

Prevention remains to be the most feasible option for curbing the childhood obesity epidemic.

Results from the Expanded National Nutrition Survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute (FNRI) in 2019 reported a relatively low prevalence of overweight at 2.9% among children under 5 years old; medium prevalence of 9.1% and 9.8% among children aged 5 to 10 years old and 10 to 19 years old, respectively.

Among Filipino adolescents, overweight has tripled in the last 15 years. There is a higher rate of overweight and obese children in urban areas than in rural areas and higher prevalence of several risk factors and environmental conditions could rapidly increase the rates.

These findings from the FNRI study, together with new studies and recommendations for action, will be shared during a dissemination forum on March 4, 2021.

“The Department of Health recognizes the emerging problem of childhood overweight and obesity in the country and although its prevalence pales in comparison with that of undernutrition, it will be unfortunate to prejudice the public health attention it deserves to mitigate its future risk on non- communicable diseases, premature death and disability in adulthood. Further, the economic costs of this escalating problem are considerable both in terms of the enormous financial strains it will place on the health care system and lost economic productivity,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.

“To prevent obesity, we need to start early, that is in the First 1000 Days of life when we could also prevent undernutrition, which could also result in obesity in later life” according to Dr. Azucena Dayanghirang, Executive Director of the NNC.

The NNC is leading the multi-sectoral Overweight and Obesity Management and Prevention Program of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022. The PPAN targets no further increase in child obesity by 2022 by fostering a healthy food environment and promoting positive nutrition behaviors towards consumption of healthier diets.

“From a public health, economic and moral perspective, it is imperative for Government and the whole of Society to act on this issue of childhood overweight and obesity. Curbing the childhood obesity epidemic requires political commitment at all levels, and the collaboration of many public and private stakeholders. A multisectoral approach is essential, and should provide supportive environments that encourage physical activity, restrict access to unhealthy foods and drinks, support mothers to practice exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months and to protect children from marketing influences. It is also important to ensure that policies and laws are fully implemented and protected from undue commercial interests,” said Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO Representative in the Philippines.

Overweight and obesity are complex and multifaceted problems that would require multisectoral and comprehensive strategies to effectively and sustainably prevent and manage.

Sustainable, responsive, resilient and functional food systems can enable better and healthier diets, but while the food systems encompass a range of public and private actors, the role of government is crucial in developing and implementing programs and policies that address the production, distribution, accessibility, and utilization of food in the country.

“Maintaining a healthy and nutritious diet is especially important at this time of a pandemic. To promote and achieve healthy and nutritious diets, sustainable, functional and responsive food systems – borne out of collaborative and multi-sectoral action – are paramount,” emphasized Kati Tanninen, FAO Representative to the Philippines.“To this end, FAO is supporting the national government through the implementation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition 2017-2022, which calls on policies and programmes to be ‘nutrition-sensitive’. Policy measures related to food systems that support healthy diets should be enforced. These policies and legislations should also be in line with – and guide the country’s actions towards – its pledges to global commitments such as the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition 2016-2025 and the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly to SDG 2 on attaining Zero Hunger and improved nutrition for all. But more importantly, such legislations should be responsive to the country’s unique health and nutrition context, objectives, and priorities.”

In recent years, several legislations have been enacted by the Philippine Congress to support healthier diets and nutrition of Filipinos.

The Department of Education has also issued policies on sale of healthy foods and beverages in schools, as well as the promotion of physical activity.

“While there have been positive developments to enable an environment for better nutrition in the Philippines, there should also be a clear and prompt action to address the triple burden of malnutrition and to recognize childhood overweight and obesity as a central health issue. Aside from actively working with the Philippine Government and other partners to strengthen nutrition policies and plans, UNICEF also collaborates on generating evidence to better address overweight and obesity and ensure access to healthy food for children. We remain committed to support health and nutrition initiatives for every child, especially the most vulnerable,” said Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov, UNICEF Representative in the Philippines.

The DOH, NNC, FAO, WHO, and UNICEF jointly call on the firm and continuous enforcement of the existing legislations, and to introduce front of pack labelling of commercially produced foods, and to regulate harmful practices such as the marketing of unhealthy foods to children. They also call on the public to change the way overweight and obesity is viewed by society and become advocates for change for healthy food environments and policies that prioritize obesity as a serious health issue.

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Optimism wards off procrastination

While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame.

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People with an optimistic outlook on the future are less likely to be severe procrastinators, according to new research at the University of Tokyo. While procrastinators often admonish themselves for their “bad habit,” it turns out that their worries for the future are more to blame. Through a survey of nearly 300 young people, researchers found that those who had a positive view about their stress levels decreasing in the future, compared to the past or present, were less likely to experience severe procrastination. Views on personal well-being didn’t appear to have an effect. Improving people’s outlook and readiness for the future could help them overcome procrastination and achieve a less stressful lifestyle. 

How many times have you made a “to do” list, and although the most important task is at the top, you seem to be working your way up from the bottom or distracted by something else entirely? While we might chide ourselves for procrastinating, sometimes the more we try to overcome it, the more stressed we feel and the cycle continues. That is how it was for graduate student Saya Kashiwakura from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tokyo, so she decided to investigate why.

“I have struggled with procrastination since childhood. I would clean my room when I needed to study for a test and prioritize aikido practice over my postgraduate research. This habit of putting off important tasks has been a constant challenge,” said Kashiwakura. “I wanted to change my behavior, as I realized that I was not confronting the future impact of my actions.”

This inspired Kashiwakura to examine the relationship between procrastination and the procrastinator’s perspective on time, particularly their view of the future. When she began researching procrastination, she was surprised to discover that many more people suffer from it than she had imagined and found it reassuring her problems were not unique.

Previous research has shown that a feature of procrastination is disregard for the future or difficulty linking present actions with future outcomes. However, the reasons for this have been unclear. Kashiwakura and co-author Professor Kazuo Hiraki, also from UTokyo, proposed that it might be because severe procrastinators have a more pessimistic outlook. 

The researchers surveyed 296 participants in Japan in their 20s for their views on stress and well-being, and importantly how these changed over time. This included asking about their experiences from 10 years in the past through to the present, and their expectations for 10 years in the future. From the results, participants were clustered into one of four groups (for example, if they thought their situation would improve or would stay the same), and then each group was divided into severe, middle and low procrastinators. 

“Our research showed that optimistic people — those who believe that stress does not increase as we move into the future — are less likely to have severe procrastination habits,” explained Kashiwakura. “This finding helped me adopt a more light-hearted perspective on the future, leading to a more direct view and reduced procrastination.” 

It was not only the level of stress people experienced, but how their perception of it changed over the 20-year time period discussed, which influenced their procrastination habits. Surprisingly, a relationship wasn’t found between procrastination and negative views on well-being, such as one’s attitude towards oneself, or not yet finding purpose and goals in life.

Using these results, the team wants to develop ways to help people nurture a more optimistic mindset and overcome procrastination. “We hope our findings will be particularly useful in the education sector. We believe that students will achieve better outcomes and experience greater well-being when they can comprehend their procrastination tendencies scientifically, and actively work on improving them, rather than blaming themselves,” said Kashiwakura. 

“Thoughts can change with just a few minutes of watching a video or be shaped by years of accumulation. Our next step is to investigate which approach is appropriate this time, and how we can develop the ‘right’ mindset to lead a happier and more fulfilling life.”

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Study shows how night shift work can raise risk of diabetes, obesity

“When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

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Just a few days on a night shift schedule throws off protein rhythms related to blood glucose regulation, energy metabolism and inflammation, processes that can influence the development of chronic metabolic conditions.

The finding, from a study led by scientists at Washington State University and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, provides new clues as to why night shift workers are more prone to diabetes, obesity and other metabolic disorders.

“There are processes tied to the master biological clock in our brain that are saying that day is day and night is night and other processes that follow rhythms set elsewhere in the body that say night is day and day is night,” said senior study author Hans Van Dongen, a professor in the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. “When internal rhythms are dysregulated, you have this enduring stress in your system that we believe has long-term health consequences.”

Though more research is needed, Van Dongen said the study shows that these disrupted rhythms can be seen in as little as three days, which suggests early intervention to prevent diabetes and obesity is possible. Such intervention could also help lower the risk of heart disease and stroke, which is elevated in night shift workers as well.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research, the study involved a controlled laboratory experiment with volunteers who were put on simulated night or day shift schedules for three days. Following their last shift, participants were kept awake for 24 hours under constant conditions—lighting, temperature, posture and food intake—to measure their internal biological rhythms without interference from outside influences. 

Blood samples drawn at regular intervals throughout the 24-hour period were analyzed to identify proteins present in blood-based immune system cells. Some proteins had rhythms closely tied to the master biological clock, which keeps the body on a 24-hour rhythm. The master clock is resilient to altered shift schedules, so these protein rhythms didn’t change much in response to the night shift schedule.

However, most other proteins had rhythms that changed substantially in night shift participants compared to the day shift participants.

Looking more closely at proteins involved in glucose regulation, the researchers observed a nearly complete reversal of glucose rhythms in night shift participants. They also found that processes involved in insulin production and sensitivity, which normally work together to keep glucose levels within a healthy range, were no longer synchronized in night shift participants.

The researchers said this effect could be caused by the regulation of insulin trying to undo the glucose changes triggered by the night shift schedule. They said this may be a healthy response in the moment, as altered glucose levels may damage cells and organs, but could be problematic in the long run.

“What we showed is that we can really see a difference in molecular patterns between volunteers with normal schedules and those with schedules that are misaligned with their biological clock,” said Jason McDermott, a computational scientist with PNNL’s Biological Sciences Division. “The effects of this misalignment had not yet been characterized at this molecular level and in this controlled manner before.”

The researchers’ next step will be to study real-world workers to determine whether night shifts cause similar protein changes in long-term shift workers.

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USANA Philippines celebrates 15-year anniversary

Beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

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USANA Philippines recently celebrated its 15-year anniversary in it its ongoing mission to maintain wellness. Company executives, ambassadors, Associates, and product users all attended this grand celebration — a testament to the unwavering commitment to reach one million families worldwide.  

Since its launch in 2009, USANA Philippines has received numerous accolades: Named among the best companies to work for in the country by the HR Asia Awards; Winning the prestigious Linchpin Award from the Asia Pacific Enterprise Awards (APEA); Recognized by Euromonitor as the Number 1 Vitamins and Dietary Supplements Brand in the Philippines for five consecutive years. 

But beyond awards, the community it empowers is the true measure of success. From employees to Associates, life-changing opportunities allow them to grow both personally and professionally.

When Analan Omambing, assistant customer service manager, joined USANA she was shy and introverted, but the support she’s received has pushed her to step up as a team leader.  “The career growth and personal development I gained here have transformed my personality significantly,” she says.  

USANA Philippines also creates ways to form meaningful relationships.  

“Direct selling, especially USANA, is all about relationships,” says Aurora Gaston, vice president for sales development.   

As the first employee hired by USANA Philippines, Loudelle Cinco, USANA’s regional controller in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia has experienced it all.  

“One of the things I treasure is the friendship, having a family in USANA. This position has paved the way to building great and lasting relationships.”  

Over the past 15 years, USANA has seen a shift in their Associate’s perspectives — from a focus on individual success to embracing a more collaborative and inclusive view of the community.  

“This comprehensive development approach underscores USANA’s commitment to not only enhance the lives of our Associates but also empower them to make a meaningful difference in the world” shared Cherry Dionisio-Ampig, general manager for USANA Philippines.  

USANA consistently strives to make an impact by being responsive to shifts in consumer behavior. Changes made over the years include strengthening the brand through collaboration, embracing the evolution of social media, and ensuring Associates can effortlessly introduce USANA’s products to the world. And as USANA Philippines celebrates this milestone, its vigor to sustain wins and touch more lives grows even stronger.  

“We are dedicated to ongoing research and innovation to develop products that not only meet — but exceed — the expectations of families worldwide. By focusing on efficacy and quality, we aim to be the trusted partner in every family’s journey towards maintaining wellness” Cherry says.   

The 15-Year “Ignite the Vibe” celebration was held at the Marriot Hotel Grand Ballroom. It’s the final touch to the anniversary festivities that kicked off with a Thanksgiving Day event in January.

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