Friday, July 30, 2010

Wise Words from a Wise Man

Oh, Prof Feng, I love you...

Good health not just about weight, says a 'lighter' doctor

I AGREE with Dr Yik Keng Yeong ('Excellent doctors despite wide girth; July 19) that doctors should look their part.

Since my girth has been mentioned, your readers may wish to know that I have lost 10kg after three years, but am still trying to lose another 5kg, which so far has proven to be mission impossible. This is because I enjoy food, in particular, roti prata, cheesecake, char kway teow and ice kachang.

However, obesity is only one of the risk factors of poor health. Recent research has shown that about 20 per cent of obese people are perfectly healthy with normal cholesterol and blood sugar, and a good family history. They also live a long and healthy life.

My late friend, Professor Chao Tzee Cheng, used to tell me that 30 per cent of people who die suddenly of heart attacks are not obese, but they indulge in unhealthy habits such as smoking, excessive alcohol intake, lack of exercise and risky sexual behaviour, and have a poor diet and poor family history.

Good health is a lifelong journey and you start when you are young. Parents must instil in their children healthy lifestyle habits such as having a good diet, regular exercise, not smoking and not drinking alcohol, as well as prevent childhood obesity.

Good health is not a number, be it your age, weight, body mass index, how often you jog or the number of kilometres you run. It is a sense of well-being physically, mentally, socially and spiritually.

In this regard, the National Arthritis Foundation, together with a geriatrician, is organising a number of seminars and talks in the latter part of the year and next year to address issues of health literacy, active ageing and patient empowerment.

We need to change the whole concept of health, focusing more on prevention and self-management. The present debate of 'girth and health' is simplistic and does not address the more important issues of good health.

Professor Feng Pao Hsii
Chairman, National Arthritis Foundation

Prof Feng was one of our professors in medical school. Like the late, great Prof Chao (mentioned in his letter), he was (still is? Have not seen him in years) rather rotund & a wonderful teacher.

I wish that more people could appreciate the truth of what he has to say about health being more than just a number. Today's society is incredibly obsessed with appearances especially how heavy one is. Look at how popular weight loss drugs are, to the point that many doctors have been charged (in Singapore, anyway) with indiscriminate dispensing of appetite suppressants like phentermine. I used to have patients with BMI's of 18 coming to my clinic asking for weight loss medication!

Open your eyes, people. Good health is not just skin deep.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the guys give good advice. in fact, i belive that a little extra weight is good when you are older, as you have something to fall back on if you fall ill. my extra kgs mean less wrinkles. however, i'd like to get rid of my spare tyre!
and my GP would be very pleased if i lowered my blood pressure...