In the last 20 years, the percentage of obese people in Costa Rica has increased from 46% to 62% which now puts us on the threshold of one the most obese Latin American countries with alarming figures among the minors. 21.4% of children 5-12 years old in Costa Rica are also obese.
A study by the Institute of Demography and Epidemiology at the University of Washington concludes that half of the illnesses suffered by Costa Ricans are related to the diet and damaging lifestyle habits such as the consumption of tobacco, alcohol and physical inactivity.
Of the ten risk factors analyzed in the report, released by The Lancet, the most important factor is obesity, but all play a role in the proliferation of chronic diseases like diabetes, hypertension, heart disease and cancer, which together will rob the population of an average of ten years of their lives.
If we can manage or preferably decrease these risk factors, this would diminish chronic illnesses, which cost the Costa Rican Social Security Fund (CCSS) approximately five million colones (nearly US$10,000) per patient.
The frequency of these diseases, which are the most disabling and costly to treat, has soared to record levels, to the point that every hour a new cancer patient is detected in our country.
Three years ago Costa Rica approved an excellent tool for the guidance and regulation of the food supply given to our children, which should be substantial part of a public policy of encouraging healthy lifestyles and preventive health.
However, as often happens with good ideas in our country, the results of the program have not been examined nor periodic evaluation criteria were established.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has recognized that eating fruits and vegetables in Costa Rican schools is higher than in other countries, but also warned that fast food consumption has doubled since 2000 in the region and the predilection for high-calorie processed foods persists with limited or no nutritional value.
Costa Rica is the oldest country in Latin America, and therefore is facing a major challenge regarding the impact of chronic diseases in both the economy and quality of life. Although the CCSS often repeated that “prevention is better than cure”, society unfortunately continues in the opposite direction.
Costa Rica’s Lack Of Growth – Population Growth!
Replacement level is the amount of fertility needed to keep the population the same from generation to generation. It refers to the total fertility rate that will result in a stable population without it increasing or decreasing. It is expressed as the total number of live births a woman would need to have over her child bearing years, which is typically ages 15-44.
While the Ticos (the Costa Rican people) are becoming more obese – which I have also personally observed over the last 16 years of living here – the Ticos are not having babies like they used to… Costa Rica’s present birth rate is 1.90 which is about half the level it was at just 25 years ago.
Written by Scott Oliver, author of 1: How To Buy Costa Rica Real Estate Without Losing Your Camisa, 2: Costa Rica’s Guide To Making Money Offshore and 3. ¿Cómo Comprar Bienes Raíces en Costa Rica, Sin Perder Su Camisa?
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