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Indonesians spend billions to treat obesity-related diseases every year: Report
Jakarta Globe - June 10, 2017
Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN) unites experts from governments, academia, industries and communities across Asia to begin a dialogue on food innovation and solve problems and diseases related to obesity in the region.
The report, "Tackling obesity in Asean – prevalence, impact and guidance on interventions," was published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
"This report can be used as a guide for policymakers, health organizations and the industry as they tackle the rising threat of obesity in the region together," EIU global chief economist Simon Baptiste said in a statement received by the Jakarta Globe on Friday (09/06).
Indonesians spend between $2 billion to $4 billion annually to treat illnesses related to obesity, which is equivalent to between 8 percent to 16 percent of the nation's total healthcare spending, topping a list that includes Malaysians, who spend $1 billion to $2 billion, and Singaporeans, who spend $400 million to $1 billion.
Obesity contributes to the prevalence of other diseases including diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and stroke, as well as cuts short the productive age of young individuals in Southeast Asia by four to eight years.
The Philippines suffers most in this respect, with Filipinos having their productive age cut short by eight to 12 years, followed by Malaysians with six to 11 years and then Indonesians, with six to 10 years. Specifically for Indonesian women, obesity-related diseases are reducing their productive age by 3 to 8 years.
The report said key obesity drivers in Indonesia include the prevalence of energy-dense and nutrient-poor food – food full of carbohydrates, protein and fat, poor dietary choices and lack of exercise.
Food availability per capita in the country has grown by 40 percent, but 20 percent of those are sourced from fat. At least 93.5 percent of Indonesians consume fewer than the required five portions of fruits and vegetables a day.
The almost complete absence of dedicated bike lanes, sidewalks and public parks also contribute to Indonesians' lack of exercise.
The report highlighted that the most effective way to prevent obesity is by following a glycemic index diet low in calories, fats and carbohydrates, and doing regular exercises.
"There is no magic formula in solving the growing obesity epidemic in Asia. Governments in the region need to realize that obesity will be the number one health challenge we will be facing in the next two to three decades," ARoFIIN secretary Bruno Kistner said.
"Every sector has a role to play. There must be proper undertakings among industry, government and civil society – real progress can only be made by constructive, transparent and accountable engagement with all stakeholders," he said.
Global food manufacturers have innovated to offer healthier but more affordable food products with fortified minerals and lower salt, sugar and fat content. ARoFIIN is hoping to extend this effort by encouraging small and medium enterprises in Southeast Asia to do the same.