The role of family crucial in curbing obesity: New book shows how lifestyle choices affect health
National Healthcare Group book shows how lifestyle choices affect health
They say children mostly take after their mum and dad, and that is why parents must realise there is a good chance their unhealthy lifestyle habits could be adopted by their kids and result in health issues like obesity that drag on into adulthood.
Obesity is nearly irreversible, warned the National Healthcare Group (NHG), Group chief executive officer, Professor Philip Choo, who spoke to the media yesterday about population health at the release of a book, River of Life.
If a child is obese by the time he is seven, he will likely struggle with it for life, and this can lead to heart problems, diabetes, hypertension and other medical issues.
Prof Choo added that even by the time a child turns three, his long term gut health could already have been impacted.
To avoid such problems, the role of the family, specifically the mother, is crucial, said Prof Choo.
"We need to activate the mothers. A mother wants what's best for the kid, and once the mother is activated, we can look at really changing (unhealthy living habits).
"Originally I was looking at school health, but realised that's a bit too late, we need to start even earlier (in a child's life)."
NHG oversees central Singapore and the north, and is responsible for hospitals, healthcare centres and polyclinics including Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, the Institute of Mental Health and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
In the book, NHG shares statistics on health in Singapore, noting that the current uptick of bad lifestyle habits could cause worrying shifts in overall lifespan and population health, and stressed the importance of arresting such issues holistically. The book says there is a rise in frailty cases and the number of people in Singapore with chronic diseases, in part due to an ageing population.
But what is worrying is that the health situation could get worse because of the bad lifestyle habits of Singaporeans like poor diet, smoking, lack of physical activity and chronic stress.
This kind of unhealthy lifestyle can shorten one's lifespan by up to 12 years.
Prof Choo said that poor diet, developing high blood pressure and physical inactivity are the three biggest risks to the health of Singaporeans.
Speaking at the media briefing, Professor Pang Weng Sun, Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer (Population Health), NHG said: "The data is a confirmation of what we already knew and helps us record and look at what we're doing even more clearly.
"It will also provide a resource that we can look back on and explore why NHG is doing what it is doing and explain the programmes more clearly."