Posted tagged ‘population’

CAN THE WORLD’S PEOPLES BE FED IN THE LONG RUN?

October 15, 2013

CAN THE WORLD’S PEOPLES BE FED IN THE LONG RUN?

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

“In the long run, we shall all be dead!” – John Maynard Keynes

 

Good day to you fellow global citizens!

 

By the year 2050, the world’s present human population will breach the 10 billion mark. That’s what the forecasts are saying so far, although it is always possible that assumptions done in the forecast may not work in the future.

 

At any rate, yielding a population figure that is based on zero population growth or ZPG is all wishful thinking. World population is now growing at 80 millions annually, and there is no indicating a reversal or decline of the number of babies born and survived annually (less the numbers of death).

 

There just aren’t enough land to treat as frontier lands anymore, sufficient to yield greater harvests. Human food production is still based largely on land cultivation, though hydroponics was already perfected in the late 1980s yet, which can considerably shift production stress away from land. So we will still be stuck up with land-based cultivation + land- based fish farming + land-based livestock production.

 

As studies show, the sub-Saharan (desert largely) has the potential for feeding an additional 4 billions of warm bodies. This is quite some good news so far, though it only is a palliative. Unless that population growth will taper down slowly across the coming decades, till it possibly gets nearer ZPG, the feeding problem will be a headache for humanity in the long run.

 

Below is a very interesting report about the feeding forecasts and problems anticipated in food production in the long run.

 

[Manila, 10 October 2013]

 

Source: http://www.scidev.net/global/farming/analysis-blog/focus-on-poverty-how-can-we-feed-ten-billion-people.html

Focus on Poverty: How can we feed ten billion people?

Speed read

  • Demand for food is set to outstrip supply and there is little spare land for crops
  • But Sub-Saharan Africa has great potential to increase production
  • As well as science, inequality and consumption patterns must be considered

It will be even harder to feed the world in 2050, but African farmers could be key, says Roger Williamson.
 
An alarming study has found that major crop yields are increasing too slowly to meet future food demands. With the latest UN projections suggesting a world population of 9.6 billion by 2050 [1] and the population rising by more than 80 million a year — with the fastest rates in some of the most populous African countries — how will the human race feed itself?
 
In future, will we be talking about three to four billion people in extreme poverty rather than the current ‘bottom billion’?
 
A recent, timely book, 10 Billion by Stephen Emmott [2], paints a bleak picture. Emmott examines technological fixes or changes in behaviour or political will as potential solutions, but says  these are likely to fail.
 
This conclusion must be taken seriously. A key part of his narrative is that there is simply not enough land to feed the growing population — more importantly, one with growing food needs. What’s left are cities, where you buy food (not grow it); oceans, which are largely being overfished; forests; and desert. Thus there are only two real possibilities: somehow finding more land to cultivate or improving yields from existing cropland.

A video posted online earlier this month by the ReCom programme — which aims to research and communicate what works in foreign aid — of the UN University-World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER), based in Finland, provides a more hopeful scenario for Africa.

In it, Ephraim Nkonya, a Tanzanian land management specialist at the International Food Policy Research Institute, makes the surprising statement that Africa could become the world’s breadbasket.

His argument hinges around two interlinked opportunities — that the yield gap for current and maximum potential production for crops is greatest in Sub-Saharan Africa, and that there is potential for radically expanding food production through increasing the area of land under production. According to Nkonya, 90 per cent of all land that could be brought under cultivation is in Africa or Latin America.

Akio Hosono, of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Research Institute, recently presented positive examples of the latter at a UNU-WIDER conference. He highlighted the use of Brazil’s vast Cerrado region for soya production. [3] JICA and the Brazilians are exploring this model’s applicability to Mozambique. [4]
 
However, increasing crop yields by expanding the area under cultivation often means deforestation. Intensification of yield is the key.

Forecasts of having three to four billion people living in absolute poverty, and strategies for eradicating this problem, are questions for science, but they are also more than that. Social and economic issues of extreme inequality (for example around access to land) and consumption patterns (for example ensuring that resources for food production are distributed equally) are also vital elements to the mix.

Roger Williamson is an independent consultant and visiting fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom. Previous positions include organising nearly 80 international policy conferences for the UK Foreign Office and being head of policy and campaigns at Christian Aid. 

References

[1] Worldwatch Institute Fertility Surprises Portend a More Populous Future (Worldwatch Institute, 10 July 2013)
[2] Emmott, S. 10 Billion (Penguin, 2013)
[3] Hosono, A. Industrial Strategy and Economic Transformation (ReCom, accessed 26 July 2013)
[4] Hosono, A. South-South/Triangular Cooperation and Capacity Development. In K. Hiroshi (ed) Scaling Up South-South and Triangular Cooperation (JICA Research Institute, November 2012)

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POPULATION IMPACTS CROPS LARGER THAN CLIMATE CHANGE

October 19, 2011

POPULATION IMPACTS CROPS LARGER THAN CLIMATE CHANGE

 

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

I have no fondness for Malthusian bogey perspectives about population outstripping food production. And I do scorn such fear-mongering neo-Malthusians as Paul Erlich’s nauseating ‘population bomb’ thesis.

 

Albeit, there is indeed validity to the pressure exerted by burgeoning population on limited arable lands. A study done in Africa shows the demographic factor as having greater impact on crops than the much ballyhooed climate change. However, the study didn’t go to the extent of prescribing genocide and population decimation strategies in order to return the food security situation of the past, as such mad prescriptions belong more to the Malthusians and the eco-fascists hiding under the rubric of ‘environmentalists’ or ‘greens’.

 

Below is a special report on the subject coming from the SciDev.net.

 

[Philippines, 19 October 2011]

Source: http://www.scidev.net/en/agriculture-and-environment/farming-practices/news/population-has-bigger-effect-than-climate-change-on-crop-yields-study-suggests.html

Population has bigger effect than climate change on crop yields, study suggests

Bernard Appiah

4 October 2011 | EN

Climate change and population hike might mean smaller maize yields in the future

Population pressure will be as significant a factor as climate change in reducing crop yields — and thus increasing food insecurity — in West Africa, according to a modelling study.

The authors inserted different climate change, land use, and demographic change scenarios, into an internationally validated model to estimate maize yields in Benin from 2021–2050.

They found that, as the population increases, farmers frequently cultivate cropland without allowing adequate resting periods for the soil to regain its fertility — thus reducing crop yields.

Overall, they found that various land use scenarios reduced maize yields by up to 24 per cent over the period, whereas climate change scenarios reduced them by up to 18 per cent.

But beyond 2050, “climate change is most likely to be the predominant driver for crop productivity”, they concluded.

“Our main assumption [before conducting the study] was that the low-input fallow systems (which allow resting periods for ploughed, but un-seeded land) in Benin and other West African countries would not change in the near future,” said Thomas Gaiser, lead author and a researcher at the University of Bonn, Germany.

“If governments in the region introduce policies such as the promotion of the use of mineral fertilisers, then the decrease [in the amount of land left fallow] will not be as serious as that without fertilisers,” he added.

Gaiser said farmers should use mineral fertilizers or intercrop with leguminous crops to promote soil fertility and increase yields.

He added that the findings are relevant to many Sub-Saharan African countries relying on leaving land fallow for soil fertility, like Ghana, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo.

“I am not surprised by the findings,” said Brian Keating, the director of Sustainable Agriculture Flagship of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), based in Australia. “It is important to look at all the factors that contribute to agricultural productivity output, and not just on climate change.”

But Keating told SciDev.Net that many farming systems in West Africa yield only 20–30 per cent of what would be possible if better practices and technologies were adopted.

Temi Ologunorisa, director of the Centre for Climate Change and Environmental Research at Osun State University, in Nigeria, said African governments should adopt climate change adaptation strategies.

“Agriculture in Africa is about 80 per cent rain-fed, and this must change given the declining amount of rainfall,” Ologunorisa said.

The study was published in the August edition of Agricultural and Forest Meteorology.

Link to abstract in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

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FILIPINOS 104 MILLION STRONG: 94 IN PH, 10 OVERSEAS

February 12, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang gabi! Good evening from PH’s suburban boondocks!

 

The Philippines just conducted a census last year, 2010, and the result shows a sum total of 94 Million heads in the archipelago. The population growth of 2 Million heads per year is also indicated, showing an increase from the 1.7 Million heads annual increase ten in the year 2000 (when the last census was conducted).

 

The 2 Million annual growth is already a total result in itself. Accordingly, about 500,000 fetuses are aborted every year in the country, a figure that has alarmed population and health experts. Never mind if the national charter bans abortion, women who commit unwanted pregnancies simply decide to go abortion.

 

94 Million Filipinos, at a time of economic boom and rising incomes, is a cause for celebration. With a rising middle class at hand—who form the demand base of consumption-led growth—we expect a steadily growing number of Filipinos who comprise the family income bracket earning U.S. $6,000-$30,000 annually. 20 Million Pinoys are in that category today, which will expectedly rise in the next couples of years.

 

Thus, PH qualifies as an ‘emerging market’. It has first of all a large population, and millions of people falling within the middle class spenders with incomes ranging from U.S. $6,000 to $30,000. Many heads working and earning well translates into economic wellness for a country, so we should welcome this development.

 

Now, let us not forget the Overseas Filipinos or OFs who comprise an estimated 10 Million heads across 200 countries more or less. These OFs earn an aggregate income of U.S. $400 Billions annually, $20+ Billions of which is remitted to the Philippines as Net Factor Income from Abroad or NFIA. Of the $20+ Billions, only around $18 entered legally established channels of remittance annually.

 

That means the OFs remit 5% of their earnings to the motherland, and that is good enough. No matter what misery-inducing policies the global elites would slap Pinoys with via the World Bank-IMF-WTO Group, the most demonic being the austerity policies of the IMF, the Philippines can survive thanks to the OF remittances. Let the evil elites shackle PH with crippling low credit ratings and low entry of ‘smart money’ and investments by them, we will still survive thanks to the remittances and our own domestic investments.

 

The signs are pretty clear that fecundity, the capacity to give birth, is high among Filipinos. This for me is a cause for celebration. Let us sustain our high birthing capacity and increase the number of middle class people by the year, and we will all the more exude our economic and social power as a people.

 

Contrast that high fecundity to the trends in Japan and Russia, where their populations are falling by the year. Russia has been alarmed a decade ago yet about falling population, and identified the phenomenon as the top national security problem. Japan just began to experience a falling population, and this early look at how alarmed and panicked the Japanese stakeholders are of the consequence of diminishing population.

 

Not so for my beloved Philippines. We will be producing 2 Million+ Filipinos annually in the archipelago and overseas for many years to come yet, and we shall use the burgeoning population as leverage in negotiating with other nations and regions. The global oligarchs can no longer be fooling us at this time, whacking us with oppressive policies that produce deplorable conditions for our poor folks.

 

Abroad, our own Kabayans are now crystallizing a consciousness as an Overseas Filipino Nation, and I do welcome this progressive development. United by culture, language, and shared experience, the OF Nation will wield the stick to leverage vis a vis governments, market players, and interest groups in their host countries. They can no longer be fooled in the negotiating tables, much more enslaved and butchered like unwanted pests by sociopathic monsters without responding in a pro-active way.

 

Clearly, the days when White Americans sang “Brown monkeys have no tails” in the archipelago, a sordid racist song they popularized upon invading the Philippines, are over. The figure of 200 Million Pinoys can be breached by 2050, at a time when PH will be a wealthy nation, huge and wealthy to lead the ASEAN Union.

 

In sum, 104 Million Filipinos should be welcomed as good news. It is the leveraging power of Pinoys in the new era of Urban Philippines, whence 68% of Pinoys are residing in urban communities here.

 

[Philippines, 11 February 2011]

 

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LOIN EMPOWERMENT: CHURCH CRANKY POLITICAL DISCOURSE

October 29, 2008

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Religious fundamentalism is among the mega-waves of the moment. Secularism, which was a 19th century wave yet, had reached its full circle around the 3rd quarter of the 20th century. From 1980 onwards, with the advent of Islam Fundamentalism and Religious Right (Christian Right, Hindu Right), secularism has been taking the backseat as fundamentalism’s seductive new dogma delivered their devastating blows on erstwhile ‘enemies of God’.

Catholic fundamentalism has been riding along this mighty wave since then, and had already dealt its own devastating blows on perceived God’s enemies: (a) Irish Republic Army partisans killing thousands of children-women-aged ‘collateral damage’ folks; (b) Croatian Army, armed by the Opus Dei, storming the Serbian bastion, killing thousands of ‘collateral damage’ folks, and declaring a separate republic, along a largely contorted notion of ‘nation’ (ethno-nation); and (c) Christian militias armed to the teeth in many parts of the globe, causing enormous damages and misery on the affected folks.  

More such violent genocidal campaigns will be fomented by Catholic crypto-fascists in the months and years to come yet. This is not to count those hundreds of millions of deaths caused by the Crusades, Inquisition, imperial conquests of Catholic powers (Spain, Portugal, Bavaria, Hapsburg, etc). During the Philippine Revolutionary War against Catholic Imperial Spain, no less than half a million Filipinos died, while millions died more due to the forced labor, population resettlements, and abominable cruelties by the Catholic Spaniards.

If we reflect on all of those past genocidal campaigns done by the Catholics, and add the death tolls inflicted by contemporary terroristic adventurisms of Church partisans, we may wonder what ‘pre-emptive right’ do Catholic cryto-fascists possess that render them as indubitably clean, spotless, pure souls who cry wolf whenever issues concerning population control and/or reproductive health are raised, in the name of a new distorted moron one-liner ‘pro-life’.

The same puritanical quacks, none of whom lives a life that is unblemished and sagely worth our emulation, are again in the heat of raising the same fear-based ‘pro-life’ in the electoral campaign in America. Here in Manila, the same puritanical  quacks have been on the rampage over the legislative victory of the long-awaited Reproductive Health Bill, using the same pathetically bankrupt one-liner ‘pro-life’ spiced with highly nauseating lies about “the destruction of Philippine way of life” by the noblesse legislators. Nay, the same quackery has been raised by the fear-mongers to convince Filipino-Americans not to vote for Obama next week, for Christ’s sake!  

Come to think of it, if we examine the underlying logic of the puritanical quackery, we can see the fear of Church Hierarchs & lay leaders in a rapid diminution of church devotees across the coming decades. The political economy of church operations clearly reveals thus: the more people participating in church life, the greater the power of the purse of the Bishops, priests, religious orders, and lay organizations. This reality of political economy explains why the Church today remains very powerful, because it is the world’s wealthiest corporate entity taken in the aggregates, whose wealth no nation or corporate group can ever surpass.

To restate the thesis in another manner: loin power means purse power. Following from that logic, purse power means greater prestige and political power by the Church. A diminished loin power, due to the meteoric ascent of ‘reproductive health’ and/or ‘pro-choice’ discourse in the realms of legislation and administration also means the consequent decline of the purses of the Church operators.

As the issues and defenses are raised across partisan lines, Islamic partisans are mobilizing their forces of engagement, ready to start a World War III in their region, a war that could embroil the entire planet in another 30 Years War and see the eventual erasure of nations in a Post-Westphalia regime. Catholic militias and terrorists are increasing by the numbers across the globe, evidenced in my own country by the return of the infamous Tadtad and Ilaga groups that have regrouped and mobilized to engaged marauding Jihadist terrorists in their Mindanao backyards.

Since the Church is awash with cash, gold bullions, estates, and hedge funds anyway, every Catholic diocese may as well begin arming militias and related partisans who would be tasked to run after Catholic infidels or those who do not follow the faith in the manner so dictated by Paleolithic fogey dogma. In order to defend the ‘pro-life’ line, kill more, bomb more, cause miseries on more people, in the name of God! Praise be to God!

Urbanization is another mega-wave in our planet today, a wave that brings with it the ever-widening individuation of the human psyche. Herd discourse such as those peddled by the Pied Piper puritanical quacks, which induces a retreat to the folk spirit or folkgeist and is tantamount to retrogression of the species, has no place in an increasingly individuating psyche. Spirituality may also increase with time, but this spirituality will be of the ‘seeker’ or ‘freethinker’ type, a spirituality that is not susceptible to mind-bending manipulation by the folk spirit Pied Pipers. 

This could be the reason why, in the Philippines, amid the much ballyhooed 86% membership of Filipinos in the Vatican church or corporation, the devotees have voiced a predominantly pro-reproductive health inclination according to official nationwide surveys. Obama has got nothing to do with this inclination, the legislators’ pro-active measure on population & development has been in Congress for nigh two (2) decades now, but we do see the increasing individuation among an increasingly sophisticated urban habitué led by the urban boheme & intelligentsia.

The same Catholic puritanical quacks are joined by Christian Right groups in the USA in waging a last-ditch attempt to derail the popular gains of Obama versus his contender McCain as per latest survey. The same sickening discourse, characteristic of mental bankruptcy and mediocre “understanding” (sic!) of the human condition, is being mass-disseminated by a loose alliance of cryto-fascists, all working to subtly use loin power to keep their groups in hegemonic positions in the private sphere.

What nauseating, pathetic buffoons these folkgeist progenitors are! If they have nothing worth talking about, nothing worth their ilk, they better wrap up and mobilize for armed partisans and face their infidels in the Middle East. While the same puritanical quacks, both Islam and Christian, would be busy slaughtering each other, as they did hundreds of years back, the true peace-loving, life-loving,  dialogue-wielding, universal love-driven citizens of Earth would be collaborating in their efforts for lasting peace and development worldwide.

[Writ 27 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila.]

36 MILLION DEAD BY AMERICA’S AGGRESSIONS, WHAT SAYETH OBAMA?

October 21, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Magandang hapon! Good afternoon!

In just a couple of weeks’ time, the US voters and electorate will make their decisions about who should be the next American chief exec and vice-president. As a US observer (from Manila), I can now advance my own forecast, based on survey polls and the emerging ethos in the USA, that Barak Obama is the man of the hour, the next president of the USA.

I would now wish to bring the matter of US aggression and its toll to the American voters and the Obama camp, this being a most urgent agenda for international peace and cooperation. As per latest count, since after World War II, when the USA was transformed into a World Power status politico-militarily, over 36 Millions of peoples worldwide already died as aggregate casualties of all the US offensives and related military initiatives. What sayeth Obama and his team about the matter?

For an outside observer, it hardly matters what foreign policy architecture were periodically installed by the US administration to justify aggression of every type. The much hyped ‘global cop’ cliché no longer bites the dust, nobody believes today in the rationale for any further US aggression across the oceans save for fascistic elements that profess sympathies for US imperialistic violence and conflicts. What matters is that (a) the aggressions were committed by (b) an imperialistic power, (c) under the guise of performing a global police role, (d) resulting to a staggering 36+ Million deaths!

Will the Obama leadership finally put a reversal to the policies of global carnage and infernal destruction of nation-states by the US military juggernaut machine? Will the new presidency at least put a break to the pedals of the unstoppable destructive deus ex machina within the next four (4) years?

Will there be no more US aggressions of whatever type beginning in January 2009, when the new president takes his oath of office? Will the unilateralism that was shamelessly and arrogantly exhibited—that alienated the USA from the entire world community for the past eight (8) years—be finally put to rest, and that the USA thereafter go back to multilateralism whereby all military initiatives will be concurred within the framework of the United Nations at least?

How about those victims of all the US aggressions, those men, children, women, disabled, blind, deaf, and humble folks-–will they be indemnified by the United State if ever? Isn’t it time that those demonic aggressors within the US Establishment, who were responsible for those carnages, be brought to international justice to answer for their war crimes?

 

How about those 1,000,000+ Filipinos who died during America’s invasion of my beloved Philippines in the years 1898-1900, during that war of US imperialistic expansionism in East Asia, will their families and descendants ever get to be indemnified if ever? Or maybe it hardly pays to consider those Filipinos as humans, because anyway they aren’t homo sapiens but were rather “brown monkeys with no tails”?

While the Philippine-American War was going on, American soldiers were quick to compose and popularize songs that condescendingly denigrated the islanders to the level of animals. One particular song says “monkeys have no tail in Zamboanga” which captures the American campaign in the Mindanao island that was then predominantly Muslim. The genocidal campaign there was among the most horrific of destructive events, surpassed only by the Batangas and Samar campaigns where entire towns were leveled and razed down the ground, bringing their populations down to zero.

The song summarizes the intent and content of US aggression a full century ago. Invaded populations were no human populations anyway, so it hardly matters to observe civility or protocols of war on the subjected peoples. The explicit order is: do anything necessary to neutralize and destroy them, including razing entire towns and cities to the ground, and do the tasks without compunction. For those warm bodies are not of humans’ but of “monkeys with no tails.”

Did US aggression (in the generic sense) ever change its underlying theme and tone from a century ago to the present? That all those conquered lands outside the US borders, whatever names and cultures they represent, are not of humans’ but of Things other than human? “Take them at all cost pronto!”

Does the more human face exuded by American troops today suffice to conceal what could be an insidious, evil, demonic theme behind every imperialistic-fascistic aggression? When will true civility and ‘rule of reason’ ever govern the use of instruments of aggression by the US military juggernaut, now that such a juggernaut had grown to a complexity unparalleled anywhere in human history?

Like many members of the world community, I am sympathetic to the Man of the Hour, Barak Obama. Like everybody else, my expectations are very high that his regime would deliver the goods and reverse the trends of imperialistic aggressions and carnages. I hope this regime won’t let me down, as my exasperation over American doublespeak had already reached its limits.

I’ve raised my questions, and I’ll assign myself four (4) years to watch. What sayeth you, Fellows out there?

[Writ 21 October 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila] 

MANILA’S EMERGING OBESITY: IGNORE OR ADDRESS IT?

July 30, 2008

Erle Frayne Argonza

Nutrition-related issues and problems in the Philippines constitute a long list. Among all the related issues and problems, hunger stands out as the most highlighted today. While there is no question about highlighting hunger and addressing it with determination, over-focusing on this single issue tends to mask the other issues involved.

Among the emerging issues and problems in nutrition, I would handily pinpoint obesity as the most focal. Needless to say, it challenges development stakeholders to highlight the issue as well, and address it on the same level as hunger is being addressed today. Addressing it would mean resorting to public policy tools, strategies and programs at a national level, and creating necessary institutional frames to accelerate the problem’s solution.

While doing the study on fair trade & food security for the KAISAMPALAD in 2005 (this NGO is a national center for fair trade & food security), I stumbled upon both problems of hunger and obesity. At that time, the latest data from the Social Weather Stations regarding hunger indicated a 12% incidence, a figure that I found alarming as anything past the 8.5% index is considered significant. So I included the hunger issue among those food insecurity ailments that must be salved pronto, recommended policy measures, and even recommended the formation of a Hunger Fund as the multi-stakeholder executor of the anti-hunger mission.

The same study made me stumble upon the findings of nutritionists of the state’s Food and Nutrition Research Institute, which indicated a 25% obesity at the turn of the millennium. That average had its expressed distribution among age groups, with varying indices per age bracket. What was alarming at that time was the 25% Phliippine obesity rate was already 5% above the global average of 20% (the USA’s was 66%).

While I was aghast at the obesity incidence, admittedly I wasn’t prepared to tackle it then, and so I remained silent about the matter in the final research report, save for citing indices of over-weight across age brackets. Today the obesity incidence had risen well above the previous 25%, and certain popular media estimates indicate well pass the 30% mark already (we still need some more update nutrition research on the subject).

Obesity is markedly higher than hunger in the Philippines, surpassing the latter by over double the incidence. The problem with hunger studies is that the methodology is often subjective, since they employ surveys (e.g. asking the informant if s/he has been eating sufficiently or not. In contrast, obesity measures are objective and very exact, as calibration entails the use of weighing scales administered by licensed nutritionists.

I admit that I still am relatively unprepared to tackle the issue as of this day, that is as a development issue. I can only think now of the typical lifestyle intervention to address it, such as combining physical regimen with diet program and a total lifestyle change. Being athletic and a health buff (I was formerly Silver Medalist in national powerlifting –middleweight division), I often offer myself as a prototype of an optimally balanced physical-nutritional wellness person, even as I can easily lecture on lifestyle change and personal intervention to address obesity.

I would end this piece by tossing the query to my fellow Filipinos in the country and to friends overseas: will Manila continue to ignore obesity altogether?

[Writ 28 July 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]