A noticeable increase in obesity rates is affecting our general health and well-being. The average Singaporean is heavier than ever before. An alarming number of young children are overweight, too.
We take a look at the statistics and what can be done to help combat obesity in Singapore.
Increasing rate of obesity in Singapore
In 2017, a report from the Health Promotion Board (HPB) warned that Singapore could hit obesity rates of 15% in just 7 years. They analysed data from the past 30 years to track how obesity and weight gain trends have changed.
On average, we are 3 kilograms heavier than 15 years ago. The median body mass index (BMI) score had crept into the unhealthy range, sitting at 23.15. This is almost a full point above the 2001 median of 22.23.
Source: The New Paper
The overweight rate is now sitting at 32.8%, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Singapore has the second highest overweight prevalence in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
What’s causing overall weight gain in Singapore?
HPB’s study found a steady increase in calorie intake over the last few decades. Between 1998 and 2010 average calorie intake for adults increased from 2,062 to 2,624.
The percentage of adult Singaporeans who exceeded the recommended calorie intake increased from 34% to 59% in the same period.
The study also found that an increase in sedentary lifestyles has led to a higher prevalence of childhood obesity in Singapore.
One in ten five-year-olds in our country is now considered overweight.
This has an effect on average weight into adulthood. It’s reported that about 70% of overweight children in Singapore remain overweight as adults. This is broadly consistent with studies done elsewhere.
In fact, obesity rates among Singaporean children are climbing faster than those among adults.
Is obesity really about excess calories?
Defining obesity only as an excess calorie issue is unhelpful and hides the true cause.
What’s driving this sudden increase in caloric intake? Why now? After all, humans have existed for hundreds of thousands of years without so many of us being overweight. And we’ve been talking about reducing calories for decades without success.
One way to understand the problem better is this. Hyper-palatable processed food and too many “empty” calories (meaning calories without the essential nutrients humans need) cause people to overeat.
If you don’t get the nutrients you need, you’ll remain hungry until you do. In short, poor quality food is the real underlying cause of over-eating.
We feel it’s important to understand the underlying causes of the obesity epidemic. Framing the problem incorrectly leads to the wrong solutions. Consuming more calories is NOT a behavioural issue, or due to a lack of willpower, as it’s commonly portrayed.
The quality of food drives hormonal changes, which drive behaviour. Dr Robert Lustig, an American endocrinologist and one of the world’s foremost obesity experts, describes this causal pathway eloquently in his book, Fat Chance – The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease.
The health risks associated with being obese
Illnesses associated with being overweight include type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some types of cancer.
Carrying too much weight is associated with chronic musculoskeletal disorders and issues with joints and flexibility.
It also exacerbates a tendency to under-exercise, which only makes more weight gain more likely.
Low-carb or keto diet and weight loss
A diet with 120 grams or less of carbohydrates per day is considered low-carb. Typically, a keto diet is one in which 5 to 10% of calories come from carbohydrates, with the remainder coming from fats and protein.
Numerous randomised controlled trials (RTCs) provide scientific evidence that restricting carbohydrate intake can aid in weight loss, and help people keep the weight off once they’ve lost it.
In essence, low-carb diets force people to eat more nutrient-dense food. This controls hunger, leading to effortless weight loss (for many people) as the body “resets itself”.
Among the most interesting and rigorous of these studies is the 2018 Framingham State Food Study. It showed that people following a Low Carb diet burned an average of 250 more calories per day after losing weight than those in a control group.
That could explain why low-carb dieters find it easier NOT to regain the weight they lose.
For more information about this and other significant recent low-carb studies, see our article on recent low-carb studies with groundbreaking results.
Studies also provide strong, scientific evidence that a low-carb diet can treat (and in some cases, even reverse) type 2 diabetes.
It may also help prevent and treat high blood pressure, fatty liver disease, cardiovascular disease and a range of other health issues.
Low-carb and keto products from BenBanter
At BenBanter, we believe that a healthy, low-carbohydrate diet is key to combatting obesity in Singapore, and that it can play a dramatic role in promoting health and wellness.
For anyone, it’s challenging to make a long-term change in diet. With our convenient, low-carb snacks, we aim to make this process a little easier. All our products are endorsed by True Low Carb and don’t include any fake or unhealthy ingredients.