Eat healthy, exercise to live long

Editorial

IT is easy to feel negative as the clouds of doom and gloom grow around the epidemic of “lifestyle diseases” sweeping the planet.
But like all clouds, these have silver linings.
After all, lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, cancer, heart disease and diabetes, are so-called precisely because they are not bolts out of a healthy blue.
Lifestyle diseases are ailments that are primarily based on the day to day habits of people.
Lifestyle diseases such as diabetes, cancers of the digestive tract, the liver and lungs as well as the ailments of the heart are on the rise in PNG.
These diseases are robbing the country of many of its productive workers between the ages of 35 and 50.
For a young economy such as PNG, that cannot be good news because it means more and more of our brightest and best talents are succumbing to preventable diseases and, thus, leaving voids in experience and quality in the nation’s educated and skilled workforce.
Almost every week, it seems, one will find in the obituaries column of the newspapers a death notice of a senior professional or some other middle management personnel who dies at what many in the first world would consider middle aged or younger.
Deaths, attributable to lifestyle diseases, of individuals barely in their 50s in cities and rural areas are becoming so common that one would assume that the country’s life expectancy has surely taken a dip since independence.
In fact, one would hasten to think that the generation of leaders that ushered PNG to independence in the mid-1970s will probably outlive the generation that followed them.
Sir Michael Somare, Sir Paulias Matane, Sir Julius Chan, John Momis, Sir Pita Lus and men of that ilk are surprisingly still active and relatively able-bodied despite their advanced years.
The consumption of unhealthy foods, coupled with mostly sedentary jobs, has no doubt contributed to mortality rates in certain age groups.
What has also been a major factor in the poor state of affairs in public health has been the blasé attitude many Papua New Guineans have to healthy living.
The big question here is: Are Papua New Guineans aware that how they live their lives every day including what they eat, what they put into their bodies (smoking and drinking) and whether they exercise directly impacts their health, not just in the short term of a week or month or year but how they fare later in life?
Is there enough education and emphasis on protecting and preserving quality of life by investing in proper and proven habits such as eating foods high in nutrients, complex carbs, proteins and the other trace minerals necessary for a healthy body and, in turn, a better and longer life?
Going back to village foods such as kaukau (sweet potato), yams, taros, vegetables and fish would seem an easy alternative for many in our urban areas and should be the mantra for a new and healthier PNG.
If it has worked for our grandfathers, why not us?
Physical activity may not always be a joy for many, especially in the regimented life of a city, but fewer and fewer people are maintaining a recreational pursuit in their middle age as a way to keep fit and trim.
This should change as we need to take better care of ourselves if we are to grow with the country.

4 comments

  • Employ nutritionists and dietitians to work in hospitals.
    Create health awareness on lifestyle diseases with the theme food is medicine and you are what you eat.
    Reintroduce health education in elementary up to secondary schools.
    Empower Dept of agriculture with food security and nutrition in our towns and villages.
    Create national marketing networks for local food from highlands to the coast and vice versa.

  • Livestyle diseases remain a serious problem in PNG because in the absence of awareness or information available more and more lives professionals and general Papua New Guineans will continue to die.

  • Very relevant and important topic to be concerned about for our people. One sad thing is if we can’t control this lifestyle diseases in our educated ones they’ll be like brain knowledge drain in no time and we’ll be shortage of skilled people to run our country.
    Some that “doubelim” two or more stuff like, chewing buai, smoke, drink alcohol na wokim pamuk pasin Mann that’s a lot of it and very scary.
    Like Mr Mawe said above, more education awareness on lifestyle disease is the way to get the message across to our beloved country folks before it’s too late.

  • This is an issue not given much attention. Many people tend to think that watching what you eat and exercise are not important components of health. These two things actually lay the foundation for your health. Its a choice you make everyday. We as individuals have to accept that responsibility for our own health and take ownership of it. We cant expect someone else to make those choices for us. Your good health should be seen as an investment, not something we force ourselves to do for the sake of it.

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