Recent results of the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHeS II) by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST) showed that more Filipinos have hypertension, high fasting blood sugar and high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which are risk factors to cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other lifestyle-related diseases.
The NNHeS II showed that one in every four Filipino adults (25.3 percent) has hypertension or a blood pressure (BP) reading equal to or higher than 140/90 millimeter mercury (mmHg). The prevalence of hypertension significantly increased from 22.5 percent in 2003 to 25.3 percent in 2008 based on single BP determination.
The survey further showed that 11 in every 100 (10.8 percent) have pre-hypertension or a BP reading at the range of 130-139/85-89 mmHg. High BP increases with age starting from age 40-49 years.
The prevalence of high fasting blood sugar (FBS), an indicator of diabetes mellitus, is 5 in every 100 Filipino, based on the NNHeS II.
The prevalence increased, though not significant, from 2003 with 3.4 percent to 4.8 percent in 2008. The prevalence of high FBS or hyperglycemia peaks at age 50-59 years.
Moreover, the survey showed that 3 in every 100 Filipinos have impaired fasting glucose (IFG). IFG may progress to diabetes mellitus in a few years if not prevented. Hyperglycemia is an FBS level greater than 125 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL), while IFG is an FBS level in the range of 110-125 mg/dL.
Dyslipidemia or abnormal lipid levels significantly increased from 2003 to 2008. The NNHeS II showed that one in every ten (10.2 percent) Filipino adults has high total cholesterol level, while 21 in every 100 (21.2 percent) are borderline high. Furthermore, 15 in every 100 (14.6 percent) have high triglyceride level, while 16 in every 100 (15.5 percent) are borderline high.
The prevalence of low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-c) level increased from 54.2 percent in 2003 to 64.1 percent in 2008. In contrast, the prevalence of high low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-c) level did not change much, from 11.7 percent in 2003 to 11.8 percent in 2008. A person is considered to have a low HDL-c level if the fasting blood measurement is less than 40 mg/dl while a high LDL-c level of the fasting blood measurement is greater than or equal to 160 mg/dl.
Hypertension, high FBS and dyslipidemia are major risk factors to lifestyle-related diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and cancer. These lifestyle-related diseases are among the diseases that currently dominate the list of leading causes of death in the country. These are also leading causes of morbidity, particularly diseases of the heart and the vascular system which are the two main leading causes.
The government is intensively campaigning for healthy lifestyle to prevent these risk factors and diseases. The healthy lifestyle campaign promotes transformation of various settings into healthy settings, such as healthy workplace, healthy-eating place, healthy communities and healthy schools, among others.
Message 10 of the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos (NGF) developed by the Technical Working Group led by the FNRI-DOST recommends that for a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition, exercise regularly, do not smoke and avoid drinking alcoholic beverages. The NGF also suggests eating a variety of foods everyday, consuming more fruits, vegetables, rootcrops and legumes, as these are rich sources of fiber that help lower cholesterol level and prolong the response time of our body to blood glucose levels, and limiting the intake of salty foods to help prevent hypertension.