Opposition Sen. Francis “Kiko” N. Pangilinan encouraged Filipinos Monday to pursue a healthier diet and avoid food high in trans fatty acids to avoid heart complications and diseases.
Pangilinan, a lawyer and a farmer, said coronavirus disease (COVID-19) increases the health risks for those with heart problem.
He has filed Senate Bill 1954, also known as the Trans-Fat Free Philippines Act, to recognize the right of people to safe and nutritious food, free from substances like trans fatty acids (TFA) that increase their risk of contracting deadly diseases.
“Sabi nga, prevention is better than cure. Para makaiwas sa COVID, OK na umpisahan natin sa mga healthy habits, tulad ng pagtulog nang sapat na oras, pagpapanatiling malinis ang sarili at paligid, pag-e-exercise, at ang pagkain nang balanse at masustansya,” said Pangilinan.
(Prevention is better than cure. To avoid COVID-19 infection, start with healthy habits like adequate sleep, clean bodies and environment, exercise and eat balanced, and nutritious food)
As of June 8 this year, almost half or 49 percent of COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines had co-morbidities, including coronary heart and cardiovascular diseases.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), TFA elimination is considered as one of the simplest and most straightforward public health interventions to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and improve nutritional quality of diets.
“Pinatunayan ng COVID na tunay na health is wealth. Lalong pinag-iingat ang mga may sakit sa puso dahil tumataas ang tsansa na magka-COVID,” Pangilinan said. (COVID-19 proved that health is wealth. Those with heart problems should take care as they have high chances of infection)
SB 1954 seeks to prohibit the manufacture, importation, distribution, and sale of partially hydrogenated oils (the major source of trans fatty acids), as well as oils and fats with high trans fatty acid content. Violators face fines of up to P300,000 and jail terms of up to a year.
Sen. Nancy Binay filed a similar version of the bill in Senate Bill 1916.
Trans fats can be found mostly in fried food, baked goods, stick margarines, and other spreads.
In the Philippines, noncommunicable diseases account for 68 percent of deaths. One in every three Filipinos is likely to die before the age of 70 from one of four of such diseases: Cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, or chronic respiratory diseases.
Coronary heart disease, in particular, is the cause of nearly half of the world’s NCD-related deaths and claims around 70,000 lives in the Philippines each year.
Countries that regulated trans fatty acids have seen a significant decline in coronary heart deaths.
Denmark’s regulation contributed to a 75 percent reduction in such deaths, while Argentina’s elimination of industrially produced trans fatty acids saved an estimated 301 to 1,517 lives every year.
“Gawin natin ang ating makakaya para maging malusog at ligtas sa sakit — COVID man o ibang sakit — ang lahat ng Pilipino. Kailangang matibay ang ating puso,” Pangilinan said. (Let us do everything to make ourselves healthy, and safe from illnesses, COVID-19 or other illnesses. Our hearts must be healthy)
“Ugaliin ding tingnan ang nutrition facts sa mga binibiling pagkain,” he added. (Check nutrition facts of foods that we buy)