Start eating healthy while young, say health experts

When we talk about modifying diets, the best and healthy way to do so would be to start letting children eat the right food while they are young.

According to Acting World Health Organization (WHO) representative of the Philippines, Dr. Susan Mercado, children should maintain that healthy diet as they grow older.

“It should begin from mothers [especially those] who breastfeed,” Mercado said in a press conference at the Goldiland Millennia Suites in Pasig City during the World Health Day celebration on Friday.

As an infant slowly progresses to being a toddler, Mercado said boiling vegetables such as camote (sweet potato) and squash, and putting it in a blender without adding anything like salt or sugar, is one good way to make children get used to eating food without seasoning or additives.

“Lots of foods have natural taste. If mothers start kids without adding salt to their foods, they would not grow up looking for salty foods,” she said.

She explained that since salt was usually used to enhance food taste, Filipinos, especially children have gotten the bad habit of eating food rich in salt, including junk food.

“In cafeterias, offices and so on, we should try to see to it that people have more choices to healthier food,” Mercado said. In some restaurants abroad, Mercado said there are dishes indicating how many calories, trans fat and how much sodium is in the food.

She said it would be good if restaurants in the Philippines adopt the same healthy measure because it would at least help people watch what they eat.

“The whole of society can contribute in making better choices throughout the life course of the individual,” she said.

During the press conference, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said the Department of Health (DOH) will soon undertake some type of pilot study to see how Filipinos respond to front food labeling which is now a bill in Congress.

Ona said the DOH would like Congress, when it resumes in July, to consider the importance of food labeling. This bill seeks to place nutritional facts in front of food packages instead of at the back so people could easily read them.

According to Ona, this can be a major source of information and advocacy in what is considered to be a major shift in the Filipino diet.