05/31/2013, 00.00
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Sri Lanka, obesity alarm, nearly one-sixth of young people are overweight

by Melani Manel Perera
The authorities in Colombo make public the data on obesity in the country. An expert from the government denounces the lack of nutritional education. In June, national nutrition month begins.

Colombo (AsiaNews) - In Sri Lanka, 15% of students and 22% of women are overweight. This was revealed by Dr. Palitha Mahipala (pictured), director general of health services, according to who the abuse of salt and sugar, combined with the scarcity of fruits and vegetables in the diet of Sri Lankans, is one of the main causes of obesity.

The Director General also announced that the National Nutrition Month it will begin in June, explaining that "weight problems should be a priority for Colombo."

The picture painted by dr. Mahipala shows a total lack of nutritional education and food culture in the country. The messages transmitted by television commercials exert a strong influence on Sri Lankan women, causing them to alter their own diets in the illusion of nutrition to achieve better physical form. AsiaNews has met with a group of volunteers who aim to assist women suffering from psychological disorders related to food. One of them explains that "many of these have fallen victim to these diseases in an unconscious way, the desire to emulate television characters." He adds that "very often, these unhealthy eating behaviors affect the nutritional value of breast milk and education delivered to children."

For his part, Palitha Mahipala explains that "the first three years of a child's life are crucial for its development and growth. Feeding problems at this stage can have an impact on the health of the individual in an irreversible way." In this context, the National Nutrition Month is an initiative launched to counter this trend and stimulate the maturation of a greater food culture.


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