The over-all health condition of teenagers today is probably the most important aspect of human life that needs to be addressed in Asia. Healthy living attitudes can affect how these teenagers interact and respond to his/her environment. Different people have different and specific health perspectives. Different factors like age group, location, economic status, social status, etc. can affect the health attitudes of a person. It is important, therefore, to know the specific needs and attitudes of the society adolescents serve to ensure that these perspectives are changed. Likewise, a teenager’s overall health condition and awareness can affect how it interacts and responds to its local and international dealings. A low awareness or interest in the part of the youth towards health adds up to yet another problem. Health can actually spell the difference between development and failure of that country. The main point of this study then is to know through checking the influences of the environment on physical activity and behaviours of teenagers on eating.
Especially for a country like the Philippines and Thailand, one cannot assume that the health need of a state, or even a district or a town, is the same as another. Otherwise, health care will be like a shot in the dark, it often misses the target. Health is too important for health service to be uncertain.
A health service agent must look upon the basic demographics of the population he (or she) serves for the simple reason stated above: health is too important for him to be unsure of their needs. Since he is the bridge between the people and the health care providers must know firsthand what kind of health service those people want and need. The health needs of people from an urban community are most definitely different from the needs of those in the rural area and he has to make sure both these people get what they need.
General Perceptions on Healthy Living
Using the Asia Barometer, the author found that many teenagers are giving less attention to the content of the food they are eating especially in the Philippines. Everyone is busy attending to their leisure or studies. The foods that are available in the market, on the other hand are not as fresh as the foods that were available before. Almost all of the food manufacturers are doing their best effort just to produce food that will save their money. They produce foods that will last longer than it should be. This affects further a teenagers’ outlook on what to eat because usually, the food they eat is not really of nutritional value at all.
Aside from the issues regarding the food contents that many teenagers are eating, there are other things that are alarming. That includes the notion that many adolescents, especially in the Singapore where adults do not care about their body built, size of their body, and of course their weight. Everyone is caught up with the things that they find really enjoying that they tend to forget the important things in life.
It is not surprising if the obesity rate nowadays is high. With all the amenities that give comfort to the people especially those engaged for the so called MTV Generation of adolescents. Everyone is after the things that make them comfortable. They hate the tiring work and exerting too much effort or giving out a lot of energy on a certain thing it is not a virtue anymore. It sucks having to walk really long. Not to mention the exhausting work because of all the demands of the fast-paced life. Because of the demanding lifestyle, teens often resort to the ready to eat packed foods. These kids do not have time to eat or cook delicious and healthy foods. Everyone is getting the ready to cook foods and other foods that can be found in different fast food restaurants.
In this kind of environment today, it is not surprising if you will find a lot of teenagers who are obese, to simply put – people who are fat. Even though that school and play are stressing, adolescents do not lose weight because of their tendency to splurge on foods that have a lot of cholesterol. That is their way to relieve stress.
Working out is not an in thin lately. But this does not mean that all of the teenagers nowadays are fat. There are still the chosen few who chose to control the volume of food they are eating. There are still gym buffs who are so after their body built. These teenagers are those who are very conscious of how they look. These young people are those who are very conscious with their physical appearance. But then again this does not mean that they are health conscious. Not all slim adolescents have a healthy diet. Some deprive themselves of healthy foods, some even turned to be anorexic or bulimic.
Under this research, adolescents’ perspectives regarding the consumption of food were discussed in detail. In a random sample done for teenagers aged from 13 to 15 years old, an interview was facilitated in order to obtain their views that concerns with food as well as their belief associated with food. It shows that almost all of the 81 respondents find food as something that could either be healthy or would belong to “fast” foods. An analysis of the information obtained points to the perception of acceptance of these food types to teenagers that vary and is subject to the location of consumption that also differed. With this, there is now an emerging need to influence the consumption patterns of adolescents have to be based on an understanding of their complex belief systems.
Importance of social communication to health
Considering the complexity of fast foods in Asia and the volatile public opinion on health issues, it is not simply a matter of truth on the matter but presenting such truths to the public (Peckham, 2003). Whoever could present the most credible position and arguments as far as the public perception is concerned could influence the public to the extent that it could influence their buying behaviour. Langill (2004) discusses the application of social marketing principles to health promotion and healthy living. As a behaviour change technique, social marketing has proven effective in motivating people to make the complex and difficult behaviour changes that can improve health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases
Diet and Nutrition in the Philippines: Fast Food
The opinion that fast food establishments in Manila are not healthy for teenagers has been expressed by many members of the society, particularly after many nutritionists published their findings about the disadvantages of fast food. “Fast food commonly has a number of problems that were outlined in Fast Food Facts by registered dietician Marion J. Franz. A typical meal may contain half of the body’s daily caloric requirement as well as the entire daily sodium intake” (Goldstein 2002). Even though fast-food restaurants in the Philippines did introduce their own interpretation of ‘healthy options’ in order to attract customers looking for ‘healthy’ choices, they failed to meet ‘healthy standards’ despite all their efforts. This further influences a lot of teenagers today to opt for fast-food chains than eat home-cooked meals which are more nutritious in value. As research has shown “so-called healthy options in fast food restaurants contain more salt than many burgers” (2001).
The “battle of the bulge” in the Philippines some pundits refer is the government’s war on fats and sugar as reasons for the growing concern over the issue of obesity. Continually though, young people do not care much about these things and continue to patronize fast food products. But getting information about these additives is not easy as Schlosser pointed out “the flavour industry is highly secretive.
Due to the existence of polar views on health and healthy lifestyles by young people in the society and constant changes in the number of teenagers supporting either one, it can be said that the outlook towards health is has very dynamic environment and that companies functioning in it need to constantly fine tune their corporate strategies to adapt to changes. Whenever the “healthy lifestyle” outlook becomes predominant, fast-food restaurants would concentrate on the introduction of healthy options in their menu in order to retain younger customers. If these younger customers’ tastes change in favour of fat foods, restaurants can remove some of the “healthy choice” items from their menus for a while.
With all the given health attitudes, specifically weight problems of teenagers, all of these can be accounted to different factors (2005). Main findings about obesity in Asia are a product of the physical environment in which teenagers live today. It has been discussed that the components of the physical environment have characterized health attitudes of adolescents as a promoter of too much food consumption or intake and it discourages physical activities (2005).
There are foods that were mentioned that are factors in the increasing number of obese or the increasing rate of it. When it comes to eating, the foods which have energy and fat have a high number of consumption. But when it comes to fruits and vegetables there are a little bit declines same goes to milk. But there is a high increase in the level of consumption of cheese and pizza. The decline in the consumption of milk was changed by the high increase in the consumption of soda specifically Pepsi and Coca Cola.
Analysis of Health in Thailand
As mentioned above, the habit of eating of teenagers in Thailand and its consumption by many people are very similar. Because most teenagers do not eat much of vegetables and they prefer drinking soda that drinking milk. Young people’s consumption of milk depends on their mood and it has nothing to do on its effects on health. It is undeniably true that most young people prefer eating fatty foods because it is conceived as the delicious foods. When it comes to veggies or vegetables, adolescents do not really mind eating but they do not consider themselves as vegetarian.
Eating out in Bangkok is also a factor (Bearison, 1991). Like what is mentioned above, a lot of young people resort to eating out because of the hectic schedule. It was seen in the study that the number of teenagers who are eating out is high. Bangkok can be seen in the present situation wherein many teenagers are gathering up to different restaurants and other eateries. They can be found there regardless of the occasion. Eating out is the venue of most young people today in Thailand who are not in the mood to eat and other teenagers who don’t have time to prepare their own food. Despite the fact that there are weekends, these young people still opted not to cook or prepare their own food. There are the delivery services of different restaurants. Just a call away and in an instant, after minutes or so there will be food right in your door. The bad thing about this is that the portion or the sizes of the food that are being served are big. Thus young people tend to splurge on foods and eating too much than what is needed.
With all these factors, the Thai government has done something to counter this. The media, specifically the television and radio through advertising has a big part in the campaign on healthy eating. The media also provide the healthy foods that young people should take. There is also the campaign on food labelling wherein teenagers are well informed of the contents of the food they are consuming. But this seems not to work because it shows that the obesity rate is still high. Adolescents tend to undermine the labels.
In the contrary, media feeds the young people of a lot of enticing foods. The media can also be considered as a culprit in the rising number of obese. The pricing of food product can also be blamed. The foods in the market today are very affordable to the point that teens can feast on different foods that is high in cholesterol and fats from their allowances.
Other factors are those which discourage physical activities. One of which is the rapid advertising of cars (Hart, 1998). Young people found an alternative in walking. Then nowadays, walking is such a burden to most of adolescents. Everyone is asking their parents to buy them cars, the way they buy food, with the same purpose of getting comfort. With the breakthroughs in technology, there are devices that were invented that do not require much of physical activities. Better yet, these invented devices make young people not to do any physical activities (Hart, 1998). There are televisions and computers which most of the households have. With these appliances or devices, young people tend to just sit in one corner and they easily get the entertainment not to mention the comfort they are getting.
The food nowadays can be really accounted to the increasing level of obesity. But we should not forget that the society has a big part on this. Had the given community became very vigilant of every food they take, obesity would not be a problem. This problem is global. There are many countries that are very in need of food. Everyone is just after the satisfaction they get. It is cultural as well. There are other cultures wherein they really make their people fat because it is beautiful for them. The repercussions of being fat are not an issue for them. It is just about their tradition.
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