In the midst of the current COVID-19 pandemic that has sent the world into a tailspin, another enduring, yet often overlooked pandemic continues to spread and plague our communities. Affecting 1 in every 3 Filipinos, obesity, uncommon to most, is a complex and life-threatening disease that, if left untreated, can contribute to more severe illnesses and complications down the road.
The need to curb the ever-growing obesity pandemic has never been more pressing than it is now in our current landscape, as individuals suffering from obesity run the risk of being more prone to comorbidities as well as severe COVID-19 illnesses.
“This is a public health concern,” Zenaida Velasco, President of the Nutritionist-Dietitian’s Association of the Philippines (NDAP), reminds the public, adding it is an important issue that requires the attention and involvement of the community as a whole.
Multi-disciplinary Approach in Obesity Care
In observance of World Obesity Day held last 4th of March, the Philippine Association for the Study of Overweight & Obesity (PASOO), Philippine Society of Hospital Pharmacists (PSHP), Philippine Pharmacists Association (PPhA), Association of Nursing Services Administrators of the Philippines (ANSAP), Nutritionist-Dietitians’ Association of the Philippines (NDAP) and the Royal Danish Embassy Manila, in partnership with Novo Nordisk Philippines, held a special edition of its Kalingang Novo Nordisk webinar to the general public where a multi-disciplinary group -- doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and nutritionist-dietitians -- gathered together and shared their knowledge and insights about the lesser known, but just as grave, global pandemic of obesity.
The webinar was hosted live on The Body of Truth Facebook page – an online hub launched just this January that aims to serve as an obesity advocacy campaign centered on giving people the right, myth busting points about obesity as well as enable those who suffer from this silent pandemic to find a support system to effectively combat obesity in the country.
Dr. Ivan Cudal, an Endocrinolgist, hosted the webinar where experts were given the opportunity to share their professional opinions, provide more information about obesity, and help shed light on understanding the complexity of the disease. The panelists, all well-versed in both the treatment and prevention of the growing obesity pandemic, included Dr. Mia C. Fojas (President, PASOO), Cecini Rose Pare (EduCare Nurse Educator), Hazel F. Docuyanan (Immediate Past President, PSHP), Ma. Gilda Sebua-Silja (President, PPHA) and Zenaida F. Velasco (President, NDAP).
Topics discussed by the speakers included defining what obesity is, the dangers of its comorbid conditions, and their respective roles in helping provide proper education, assessment, counsel and treatment for people afflicted with obesity.
“Do not be shy. Early treatment of the condition will reduce the risk of having obesity related complications in the future,” said Cecini Pare as she hoped to encourage the public.
Dr. Mia Fojas, on the other hand, called for a more specific call to action, “Again, I would like to stress on our advocacies that involve lifestyle modification, behavioral modification, Mind-Over-Plate and S.I.P.A. – Short Incidental Physical Activity.”
Undoubtedly, education is just the first step of many. For this reason, along with the extensive learning from the speakers, and to complement the efforts of The Body of Truth Facebook page, Novo Nordisk Philippines also introduced the #BeatObesityWithMe movement – a call to action, compassion and cooperation for local communities to band together and form a vital support system in the battle against obesity.
Guest speakers invited to introduce this movement included Ambassador Grete Sillasen of Denmark, VP & GM, Novo Nordisk Philippines Cihan Serdar Kizilcik, and Senior Medical Manager Novo Nordisk Philippines Dr. Cyrus Pasamba.
#BeatObesityWithMe uses as leverage on human behavior that it is easier to shoulder a burden and solve a problem together with others. The movement kickstarted its community involvement advocacy against obesity by inviting everyone to take part in a series of 4 initial challenges, where teams of at least 3 people can share their progress and achievements on The Body of Truth’s Facebook page and encourage others to form their own teams as well. The initial challenges include #BeatObesityWithWalking, #BeatObesityWithYoga, #BeatObesityWithBeats and #BeatObesitywithPromises.
To conclude the event, the guest speakers encouraged the public to join arms in battling the silent pandemic of obesity and to expand the community’s education drive into a much deeper call to action.
In his parting words, Dr. Cyrus Pasamba said, “What we want to impart to everybody is that no one with obesity should suffer through it alone.”
Apart from being your go-to source of information on obesity and how to manage it, The Body of Truth FB page will also serve as the venue for all challenges to come in the future.
Dr. Ivan Cudal concluded the webinar by inviting the audience to like, share, and post their accomplishments and stories on the Facebook page and to entice more of the community to join the movement as we beat obesity together. “Remember, every body needs everybody. You’re not in this alone,” said Hazel Docuyanan.
For more information on how to help combat the silent pandemic of obesity, please visit https://www.facebook.com/The-Body-of-Truth-106821354732100.
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