On World Obesity Day, the President of the College of Nutrition Professionals, Dr. Norma Meza, recalled the importance of knowing the status of nutritional health of the Tico population. International organizations recommend updating data every 10 years; however, in Costa Rica the last National Nutrition Survey was conducted thirteen years ago.
“Although the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Education have carried out surveys such as the National Census of Weight and Height (2016), and the College Survey of Nutritional Surveillance and Physical Activity (2018) in school and adolescent population respectively, to know data on the other population groups, you always have to resort to the 2008 National Nutrition Survey,” said Meza.
Data is needed to create public policies
Overweight and obesity show galloping and sustained growth in both Tico men and women, as shown by the last 3 National Nutrition Surveys. The President of the College added that with updated data, decisions can be made allowing the elaboration of policies and the design of strategies that effectively address the problem of obesity and micronutrient deficiency, which the general population may be suffering from.
“We are aware that the health sector has been dedicated to addressing the Pandemic and that all resources have been committed to that fight, but we believe that the competent authorities must identify the ideal way to collect the information from the last 13 years”, Meza commented.
The COVID-19 Pandemic evidenced the importance of preventing obesity and overweight, since a significant number of people who died and those who were more severely affected by the Virus, had cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and diabetes (diseases generated by obesity).
Updated data is needed urgently
“The country needs a photograph of its nutritional health, which includes all population groups. The “malnutrition” that includes both the deficit and the excess of energy (proteins) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is a public health problem”, said the nutritionist.
Meza pointed out that a person can have malnutrition while obese, but they can also have a micronutrient deficit; Therefore, it is important to know the plasma levels of micronutrients that are directly related to the immune system and the proper functioning of the body.
“The National Children’s Hospital already has among its patients children with type 2 diabetes, which is acquired by poor eating habits, that is why nutrition professionals insist on monitoring nutrition, which must begin from an early age to have healthy adults “, concluded the President of the College.