Consuming rich foods during festive season can cause NCD surge | Sunday Observer

Consuming rich foods during festive season can cause NCD surge

Tomorrow is Christmas, and the week after is the dawn of the New Year. As the festive season now gathers momentum and is already in full swing in most homes celebrating these two important events, very few spare a thought to the disastrous consequences that over indulging themselves with rich food laden with sugar, carbohydrates, oils and salt could have on their health. Those with already compromised immune systems due to chronic and acute diseases such as diabetes and hypertension are most at risk. In the case of young children, especially, pre-diabetics who are on the rise in Sri Lanka, eating more sugar than permitted this season could be deadly. Consuming too much liquor could also be injurious to health.The Sunday Observer spoke to the Director, Non Communicable Diseases Unit, Health Ministry, Dr BISK Siriwardene to tell us why we should avoid eating too many sugary foods and drinks and how we should maintain healthy nutritious diets this festive season.


Q.. The festive season of Christmas and the New Year have begun . . As Director Non Communicable disease ( NCD) unit Heath Ministry, do you foresee any adverse impacts on our health arising from this season of festivity?

A. Yes, we know that there is an increased risk of chronic as well as acute Non Communicable Diseases in the festive season. Celebrating Christmas and new year linked with food, alcoholic beverages, smoking and less physical activities. and also risky behaviors which lead to accidents like road traffic accidents, home injuries and recreational injuries (due to fire works etc). People think that to celebrate Christmas and New Year they need to have alcohol which have no truth at all. And which may convert this happy season to a sad one. Their dependents will have to suffer for the rest of their lives.

Q. Are these adverse impacts the consequences of the kind of food we eat during the season?

A. Food is necessary and important for our health. When you do not have enough foods to consume you may get malnourished. And there are few ways that eating food will impact health. Consuming food poor in Sanitation can lead to food poisoning, gastrointestinal infections and diarrhea etc. Also over consumption of unhealthy food such as foods rich in calories, sugar, salt and oils may lead to almost all Non-Communicable Diseases.

Q. What kind of seasonal foods are likely to affect our health? Elaborate

A. Over consumption of all foods rich in calories, salt, sugar and oils are not good for us. We consume more sweets during this festive session and eat more fatty and salty foods. Also we do not eat enough vegetables and fruits.

Q. Why and how do they affect our health?

A. Eating less or no vegetables and fruits make your bowel habits unhealthy.

More foods rich in calories like carbohydrates, sugar and fats & oils may add weight to you. you may feel difficult to wear your ordinary cloths at the end of season as fat has been deposited inside your body specially inside abdomen, around hip and thighs. It will take whole next year to get rid of these weight you gained. Also you are prone to get almost all NCDs like diabetes.Cancers respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and brain attacks etc.

Q. Who are most at risk ? Young? Old?

A. No difference with age. all age groups are at risk with different levels. Specially kids and youths are less prone as they are physically active and vascular systems are still not damaged. Older are prone to have immediate effects of NCD.

Q. How do they affect the health of elderly persons ? What kind of diseases can arise as a result of over consuming them?

A. They are prone to have high blood sugar and high blood pressure levels which we usually call Diabetes. On the long run they may get cardio vascular diseases like heart attacks and brain attacks. But immediate changes like out of control diabetes and hypertension may lead to disastrous conditions.

Q. In the case of children, Christmas is the time when they have an abundance of sweetmeats, cakes, pastries, sweetened drinks along with the Christmas cake, with diet conscious parents indulging them by turning a blind eye and excusing them for the season. If they were to indulge in sweet based foods for just the season, can it still cause a set back to their health?

A. Yes, The controlling of diets should not limited to elders. It should be practised by every one. Because all are prone to get Diabetes, Cancers, Respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and brain attacks in their life.

Also the teeth of kids may get caries as a immediate effect. I do not say that people should never eat above food. The consumption should be moderate for any type of food you consume.

Q.Today many young children are obese . The Health Ministry recently said that around 13% of children some below 12 years were pre-diabetic. How does obesity impact on a child’s health?

A. When you are obese you cannot get engaged in physical activities and become sedentary and be more obese. Your blood sugar levels will go up or glucose metabolism will be abnormal. this will be call diabetes or pre-diabetes.

The heart will have to pump more blood for a big body than in a normal level body which may lead to hypertension of weak hearts. In addition to them Obese children are more prone to get respiratory difficulties and sleep abnormalities.

All of above may lead to low level of education attainments. So most advertisements in media on foods may promote your child to be an obese one and with low levels of education which is reverse of what shown in them.