Three Health Issues for Millennials

The registered voters in the Philippines last 2016 are aged 17 to 34, while 53% of the working-age population are millennials. That is just a snapshot of how they rule today’s world. The Western narrative says millennials love watching TVs, streaming videos, texting, mobile music, going out with friends, being online a whole lot more and are used to easy access. This same narrative describes millennials as those who put premium on their value and worth over stability and prefer empowerment with a gray lines separating entitlement. A lot more has been said about these generation, but one thing is certain – millennials have health concerns too.

These health concerns can be attributed to a lifestyle backed by technology, resulting in sedentary lifestyles. Instead of dropping by markets or town plazas, to walk and find the items they need, millennials prefer online shopping. Click and wait – that’s the game. Gatherings are also finding its way to video calls and social media, thereby eliminating travelling, or any type of physical activity. Yes, it’s convenient, but it can also be detrimental to one’s health if left unchecked. Surveys show that millennials prefer fast food, sodas, street food, fried chicken over healthy food intake due to their mobile routine. These, combined with a lifestyle that lacks physical activity, can lead to various health issues. Here are three health issues amongst millennials.

  1. Obesity – Every three out of ten Filipino adults are obese. It’s a growing epidemic in the Philippines, according to Dr. Rosa Allyn Sy , an endocrinologist (doctor who specializes in diseases related to hormones). With less physical activity, high consumption of “junk food” and a lifestyle centered on technology, millennials are prone to being obese with increasing prevalence as they grow old. Obesity is costly. It is related to an array of noncommunicable diseases ranging from Type 2 diabetes to cardiovascular diseases leading to stroke to certain types of cancers. Obesity can also contribute, directly and indirectly, to an increased rate of absence from work, due to illness and poor health. Social lifestyles like excessive consumption of alcohol, poor dietary quality and erratic sleep patterns can also contribute to the development of obesity. It’s been said that prevention is better than cure. So, start moving – literally. Walking at least 30 minutes a day will do a lot of wonders for you. Water intake is key. The World Health organization recommends that we drink at least 3.7 liters of water per day to address hydration, fluid loss and various activities. Choose organic, healthy salads over French fries, burgers and sodas. There are many diet and exercise programs out there that can be helpful or dangerous, depending on your approach. There are so many factors to consider in choosing the right diet and exercise program. That is why, It is best you consult a doctor to see what’s best for you.

2. Stress – Obesity and stress are like husbands and wives. They go hand in hand. Stress, undoubtedly is one huge factor contributing to obesity, according to Dr. Edgardo Tolentino , the president of the Philippine Psychiatric Association. Studies have shown that our brains are hard wired, through evolution, to seek food that will comfort us in times of stress – thus the term “stress eating”. Stress can also contribute to higher risks of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. Other common effects of stress according to the Mayo clinic are headache, muscle pain, chest pain, fatigue, change in sex drive, upset stomach and sleep problems. Stress has effects on your mood too. It can manifest as anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation and focus, feeling of being overwhelmed, irritability or anger, sadness or depression. While overeating, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal and lack of physical activity are some effects of stress on your behavior. If you have any of these symptoms, it is recommended that you consider stress management activities like regular exercise, relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, setting aside time for hobbies like reading a book or socializing with friend and families. However, if you’re not sure about stress and how to manage it, better talk to a doctor to help you map out the best course of action.

Mental Health – According to the Department of Health, one out of every five Filipino adults have some form of mental illness. In the Philippines, mental health is either laughed upon or simply dismissed. This stigma and dismissiveness make it difficult for patients to even talk about mental illness. Cost is another factor to consider. Most insurance model in the Philippines do not cover mental health or anything remotely related to it, while psychiatrists ask for a hefty sum just for one consultation. That is why many of us are forced to just shrug it off and go on with our lives. With the recent passage of the Philippine Mental Health Law, or Republic Act 11036, we now have a platform to bring the stigma of mental health into the open, as well as provide access to appropriate healthcare professionals. One common mental illness is depression, which can be linked to a wide array of factors. According to the World Health Organization , depression is characterized by persistent sadness, loss of interest in things and activities one would normally enjoy, inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks. Depression, like most mental illness, is treatable. Family support is crucial as well as open communication. Therapies and other medical intervention are also helpful. Talk to someone you trust or reach out to your doctor if you feel you’re suffering from mental illness.