Urban living can make you overweight

Most people want to live in urban areas because they think it is here where they can be successful. But can urban living really make a person overweight, among other trade-offs?

Urban living means fast living. People rely on fats food for daily meals. People are always busy with work and therefore don’t have extra time for regular exercise. People rely on computers and cell phones for faster work and communication. As a result, they are mostly sedentary and lack rigorous physical activity. People often use vehicles for faster transportation, even if the destination is just a walking distance.

For these reasons, urban living can make you overweight.

Based on the 2008 National Nutrition survey (NNS) by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST), the region with the highest prevalence of overweight among adults aged 20 years old and above is the National Capital Region (NCR) or Metro Manila with 32.2 percent (%).


Overweight and obesity are one of the serious problems of the modern world today. It is the fifth leading risk to global death. Twenty-two medical disorders and twelve types of cancers can develop from being overweight.

Dr. Philip T. James MD, President of the International Association for the Study of Obesity, reporter that the problem of obesity is like climate change. People know there that there is a problem and yet they don’t want to do anything about it.

But can we really do something about it?

Here are some tips to make urban living healthy:


  • Avoid eating in restaurant buffets or in eat rice-all-you-can fast foods. This setting encourages eating more even if we are already full.
  • Don’t skip breakfast even when busy. Giving up breakfast does not make you slimmer because it slows down metabolism.
  • Add more colors to your plate by eating vegetables and fruits. Have a ready vegetable salad in your refrigerator rather than having ready to eat cup noodles which are usually high in sodium, fat, artificial flavours and preservatives.
  • Avoid softdrinks and powdered juice during meals. Just drink lots of water.
  • When buying food, especially processed and packaged fresh produce, read labels to be aware of ingredients, nutrients, claims and expiry date.
  • Encourage your workplace to have a regular physical activity for employees.
  • Plan a weekend exercise with friends at the nearby park, backyard or front lawn.
  • Popularize a trend, like riding bicycle to work if your location permits you.
  • When in the workplace, avoid using the telephone to communicate with your co-workers. Walk and talk to them personally.
  • Avoid using the elevator or escalator when not in a hurry or when not bringing heavy things. Use the staircase, instead.


Overweight and obesity do not only threaten the health of those in the urban areas but also rural folks. Urban dwellers are just more prone to becoming overweight because of their environment.

People in the rural areas or in provinces are also encouraged to practice healthy living by making healthy food choices and increasing or sustaining physical activities.

Fighting overweight may not be as easy as it requires long-term commitment and a lot of sweat. Before deciding on a weight loss strategy, make sure you have the heart to do it.

For more information on food and nutrition, contact: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, Director, Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Telefax: 837-2934 and 827-3164, or call: 8372071 local 2296 or visit our website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph.


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