Fighting the Obesity Problem in Singapore
Obesity in Singapore
Obesity is a health problem that has been steadily increasing in numbers in both the male and female population worldwide over the years. A common stereotype is that obesity is only growing amongst the rich countries. Studies have shown that even in lesser developed countries, lifestyle have changed so much that obesity is slowly turning into a health issue for these nations as well. Obesity leads to other more chronic health conditions like heart illnesses, diabetes, different types of cancer, respiratory diseases, all of them can be linked back to obesity.
In Singapore, a developed country by any standards, obesity is indeed a problem for the masses. Studies in Singapore have shown that one in every three Singaporeans needs to lose weight, with about six percent of its four million citizens categorically obese.
While the TAF program was a success, reducing the obesity rate between kids from a 14% to a 9%, it was heavily scrutinized and criticized upon. Overweight students started having psychological problems, ostracizing themselves from the rest of the kids. Students in the TAF program was mocked upon, other kids saying they are in the FAT program (TAF spelled backwards). In 2007, this prompted the government to switch from the TAF program to a program for every student called the Holistic Health Framework (HHF). The HHF program aimed to provide a balanced lifestyle for every student and it has so far shown measurable success.
For the adults in Singapore, steps are taken place to curb obesity as well. Every September, a month-long fitness campaign is aimed to get the adult population in Singapore to get off their couches in front of the television and fight the flab. Ministers and state leaders are shown working out with every day Singaporeans, sweating it off, to show that regular exercises are a must to keep fit and healthy.
The good news is that obesity is a preventable disease. In Singapore, the government seeks to stomp out obesity at a tender age. Previously, right until 2007, overweight students in government schools had to undergo a Trim and Fit (TAF) program. Overweight students were educated on nutrition, a healthy lifestyle and while other kids had food during recess period, these TAF kids underwent exercises, cutting up their recess period dramatically.
Workplaces in Singapore, especially the MNCs (Multi National Corporations), are doing their part to get their employees up and running instead of spending significant time in their cubicles staring at a monitor. More and more companies are taking a little bit of time off work on some days like Mondays and Fridays or on alternate days to have a morning jog or stroll around their premises. While these steps may seem unnecessary and sounds more of a hassle to some, every little step goes a long way. Some companies are even going the whole way and getting their employees involved in weekly training sessions culminating to a big event like the Standard Chartered Half Marathon.
In Singapore, a bulk of the obesity cases is being traced back to eating habits. Singaporeans generally enjoy eating food prepared by different races. Ingredients in favorite Singaporean dishes like laksa and lontong contains a high amount of coconut milk, which is tremendously high in fat which if taken daily (those dishes are a breakfast and lunch staple in Singapore), can cause obesity.
To help curb this, hawker centers and food courts all around Singapore are encouraged to prepare food containing less fatty ingredients. Singaporeans are also encouraged to ask for less oil, less portion and more vegetables in their dishes. Stickers of these are pasted on the food stall to promote healthier eating habits for Singaporeans.
It is true that obesity in Singapore is slowly on a rising trend but there are steps and measures in place to keep Singaporeans healthy. However, not only does the government have to play its part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it’s up to the individual as well. So, if you are a Singaporean and you have been procrastinating and have been sitting comfortably on your couch for months and years, isn’t it time for you to start working out? Having a game of soccer with your friends is definitely more worthwhile than watching it on television!