US Best Doctor Cites RP in Early Stages of Obesity

Rocky Batara
Dr. David Heber, a 13-time recipient of the title Best Doctor in America, had admonished Filipinos citing that the Philippines is in the early stage of the global nutrition transition with 29% of its population now classified as “obese and overweight.”

Heber, who was also named by international news agency Reuters as one of the Most Influential Scientific Minds in 2014, had explained that the global nutrition transition refers to a state wherein a country experiences both the prevalence of obesity and malnutrition.  

“America is the world champion of obesity. In China, however, 10% of its 120 million people has Type 2 diabetes. About 500 million are of them are believed to have prediabetic metabolic syndrome…The absolute epicenter (in Asia) of obesity is China and India. But I would say that Korea, Japan, and the Philippines are just in the neighbourhood of this tremendous thing,” Heber revealed.

The Founding Director of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Center for Human Nutrition related the emergent obese population in the country to the Westernization of the Filipino diet noting the ubiquitous fast-food chains. “Traditional plant-based food has been replaced by fast-food diet… It has expanded people’s abdominal fat and worsened biomarkers of metabolic syndrome,” he added. 

Heber noted the survey of the Food Nutrition Research Institute’s (FNRI) National Nutrition Survey, which stated that android obesity, also called "apple-shaped" obesity due to excessive accumulation of fat from the waist up, is significantly higher and prevalent among 39.5% of Filipino women as against 7.9% of men, based on the waist-hip ratio.

The same study of the FNRI that he quoted showed that one out of three Filipino adults are obese, with obesity prevalence among Filipino adults at 31%. The survey further revealed that females aged 40 to 49 belonging to the wealthier sector in urban areas are more likely to suffer from obesity.

Using a parameter like the Body Mass Index (BMI), which is weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared (BMI = wt. in kg. Õ ht. in m2), Heber said, the clinical threshold criteria indicate higher risk of becoming overweight if the BMI is over 25 and obese if over 30.

 According to Heber, for the first time in human history the World Health Organization announced that there are more overweight than underweight people. “It’s a global epidemic related to non-communicable diseases, including Type II diabetes, which I call Diabesity (from diabetese and obesity), because 95% of people with Type II diabetes are overweight and obese,” he said.

To address this phenomenon, Heber advised that Filipinos should start being conscious of the body composition rather than body weight. “Body composition is more important that body weight.  You may be skinny on the outside, but fat on the inside,” he warned.

Heber recommended a daily intake of a high protein breakfast, which he said is related to long-term weight management, and could be composed of protein shakes, healthy diet and exercise. He further suggests a meal a replacement plan such as what Herbalife’s program advocates and consumption of fish oils or supplements such as Omega 3 fatty acids and a decrease in Omega 6 fatty acids. 

“Get seven servings of colorful fruits and vegetables per day to increase antioxidants and phytonutrients and take at least 25 grams of soluble and insoluble fiber for a good digestive health,” he instructed.

He emphasized diets should be devoid of soft drinks, pastries, candies and other sweet cravings. “Only 30% of how you age is determined by your genes, the other 70% (nutrition and exercise) is in your hands,” he further said.

Heber was in Manila in relation to the 4th Herbalife Asia-Pacific Wellness Tour, which aims to deepen people’s practical understanding of the various aspects of living a healthy active lifestyle. Its previous tours in the past three years saw close to 60,000 participants across the region.

This year’s Wellness Tour featured five members of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board (NAB) visiting 14 markets and 21 cities across the Asia-Pacific. They will share their expert views on how people can make use of the little time they have to make simple lifestyle changes that will enhance their well-being.

Herbalife’s NAB experts likewise shared their views on a wide range of health-related topics, including weight management, brain health and aging; heart health; immunology; and skin care at the medical symposia held in countries such as Australia, Cambodia, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and of course, the Philippines.

Aside from Heber, the Herbalife NAB experts participating in this year’s Wellness Tour include Dr. Lou Ignarro, a Nobel laureate in Physiology or Medicine in 1998 for his discovery of nitric oxide’s health benefits; Dr. Gary Small, a specialist in brain health and aging who has authored over 500 scientific works and has received numerous awards and honors, including the “Senior Investigator Award” from the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry; Dr. Marion Fltechner-Mors, a health nutrition specialist who is currently heading the nutrition and obesity research group at Ulm University, Germany; and Dr. Wang Jae Lee, a physician and academic specializing in immunology and a professor at Seoul National University College of Medicine. (The Lifestyle Portal)

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Herbalife is a 35-year-old global nutrition company that sells weight-management, nutrition and personal care products intended to support a healthy lifestyle. Herbalife products are sold in more than 90 countries to and through a network of independent members. The company supports the Herbalife Family Foundation and its Casa Herbalife program to help bring good nutrition to children. To learn more visit

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