An alarming finding about childhood obesity in Singapore has recently been released: Children who are fat will likely remain so when they become adults.
The report, "River of Life: NHG’s Perspectives on Population Health", was launched by the National Health Group (NHG) on May 13, 2019.
Children in Singapore are already overweight
According to the report, seven out of 10 children, who are overweight at the age of seven, are likely to become obese adults in the future.
According to Lianhe Zaobao, the difficulty in overcoming obesity when one hits adulthood is related to the bacteria that aids digestion.
Such bacteria already exist in the gut at the age of three.
Currently, 10 percent of five-year-old children are overweight.
The report also projects an upward trend in the number of obese Singaporeans, rising from the current 11 percent to 15 percent by 2024.
Derived from observations
The findings in the report are derived from the observations of patients at the central cluster of health institutions under NHG.
There are a total of six polyclinics under NGP: Ang Mo Kio, Hougang, Geylang, Toa Payoh, Woodlands and Yishun.
The Central zone spans areas such as Ang Mo Kio, Serangoon, Hougang and Kallang.
It is anchored by Tan Tock Seng Hospital and serves a total of 1.4 million residents, making it the largest healthcare population catchment in Singapore.
About 17 percent of residents in this cluster are above the age of 65, compared to the national average of 13 percent.
Healthy diet starts young
The NHG's deputy chief executive officer (Population Health), Pang Weng Sun, emphasised the urgency of introducing a healthy diet to children when they are young at a preschool level.
He also elaborated that healthcare experts have to educate mothers to pay more attention to children's diet, according to CNA:
"We have been trying to engage people, children in schools, as well as parents, in terms of how to plan diets for their children. This is something that’s still very much work in progress, but we do realise that mothers do influence their children's choices, and eventually as the children grow up, that habits continue as well."
Along with regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle goes a long way.
Other findings from the NHG report include the threat of stroke, and in particular, the dangers of the increasing prevalence of diabetes.
A chronic illnesses, diabetes could grow from 450,000 patients today to 1 million by 2050.
Top photo by DEBBY NG/AFP/Getty Images