Khan: More than half adult population overweight; take care of your health

Former Health Minister Dr Fuad Khan says that more than half of the adult population is overweight.

He says the onus is on citizens to take care of their health and not leave it to the doctors.

Dr Khan issued a statement on the matter on Tuesday morning.

"Learning about the issue in Tobago concerning the insufficient space to facilitate the growing number of patients who need dialysis is not surprising given the increase in Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCD) in our country over the past two decades.

There is currently only one facility, which is equipped with fifty-three spots, to service the hundreds of patients on the island who require the treatment on a regular basis, as such, there is a need for persons to conduct home treatment as an alternative.

While the Secretary for Health in the Tobago Health Authority is scrambling to find a solution to the immediate problem, however, the fact remains that as long as our citizens continue to disregard their health this CNCD epidemic will continue to plague our country and monopolize our public health resources.

The only way to prevent this from happening is to educate and inform the populace how they can take care of their health and prevent the need for these types of treatment in the future.

Currently, more than half the country’s adult population is overweight or obese.

Further, 30% to 60% of the population do not achieve the minimum recommended levels of physical activity daily.

According to a survey conducted during my tenure as Minister of Health, the overall prevalence of smoking was 21% of the population and for alcohol consumption, it was 40%.

Comparing these results with the findings that 90% of adults do not consume the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables a day although we do have an abundance of these in our country.

These results underscore the reason for the increase in non-communicable or lifestyle diseases we have been observing over the past few years.

CNCD's, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer account for more than half of all deaths in Trinidad and Tobago and in the Caribbean region by extension.

The fact is, Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases share common risk factors such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and behavioral risks such as unhealthy diets and obesity, tobacco use, alcohol abuse and physical inactivity.

At least 80% of all heart disease, stroke and diabetes are preventable, as are 40% of all cancers.

The key to controlling the epidemic of chronic diseases is primary prevention, which focuses on reducing the common the global epidemics of chronic diseases is primary prevention, which focuses on reducing the common risk factors, and health education on comprehensive population-based programmes.

Until we find a way to reduce the number of patients who are dependent on these facilities at the public health centres, our nation's hospitals will remain woefully unequipped to deal with this issue.

Situations as the one plaguing those patients seeking renal dialysis in Tobago will continue to persist, and even worsen as a result.

We need to start taking responsibility for our diet and exercise to ensure that we do not become victims of these chronic ailments.

For this reason, I want to send a public message to the citizens of this country to increase your daily, increase your cardiac and aerobic activity, walk more, increase your fruit intake and increase your oats intake. In other words, start looking for foods that are considered, low glycemic foods and partake in that because they make you full longer and lessen calories.

At the end of the day, the onus is not on the doctors, but on yourselves to ensure that you maintain a healthy lifestyle and remain protected against these CNDC's.

Because if you get to the stage that you have to visit the hospital to deal with these issues, you're only adding to the burden that you already have to deal with."