Is your Butter an Obesity Health Risk?


You probably heard of the old Filipino joke that butter is bad for you because it is “mantikilya” (meant to kill ya). Some butter has trans fatty acid (TFA) and this can cause obesity. However, obesity is not all about food. Obesity is also a result of other factors like lifestyle. This focus on the lifestyle of obese Filipinos has been magnified this pandemic. Obesity is not simply overweight. For one person to be considered obese, the body mass index (BMI) must be over 30. Fast food business grows so obesity must be controlled by wise decisions of every person. Obesity is no longer just a Western problem.

The Rise of Obesity

Obesity is more prevalent in men than in women posting a 5.4% increase from 1995 to 2015 compared to 3.7% of that of women. Obesity gradually forms when one takes many calories (high amounts of energy) but does so little in burning them through exercise which will then be stored as fat. In other words, eating too much while moving too little can cause obesity. For the reason that obesity is commonly formed from a diet that is calorically excessive but nutritionally inadequate, the human body reacts, having excess fat, with poor absorption of key nutrients such as vitamin D, biotin, thiamine, and chromium. Prolonged exposure to such a condition will deteriorate over time the health status of the person. Obesity does not happen overnight but is due accumulate of poor lifestyle choices like drinking too much alcohol, comfort-eating due to low self-esteem and lack of moderate aerobic activity.

Obesity in the Philippines

A survey conducted by the Food and Nutrition Research Institute last 2019 shows that the overweight or obesity cases among the Filipino teenagers have nearly tripled in the last 15 years. Additionally, the World Obesity Federation (WOF) gave the Philippines a score of 6 over 10, which means exhibiting a “very rapid growth” in adult obesity from the year 1995 to 2015.

A lot of factors could be attributed to such a jump like genetics, lack of physical activity, medication, and, of course, food and drinks. The sugar-filled drinks and fatty foods significantly take the largest chunk of the components directly affecting the body composition. One of the popular components is TFA. This substance is present in almost every available food. Industrially-produced TFA are added to extend their shelf life. The TFA naturally occurs in small quantities in dairy and meat products. TFA can be typically found in donuts, processed products, crackers, baked goods, instant coffee, canned meat and the likes. This can cause obesity and heart problems when taken in excessive amounts. Due to the consumption of too much food or beverages, the person can highly likely eat the excessive amounts of TFA. Excess TFA can cause obesity by redistributing the fat tissue into the abdomen even if the total dietary calories are controlled. This increases the obesity health risks of having non-communicable diseases like diabetes, cancer and liver disease. These non-communicable diseases are common comorbidities, affecting 49% of COVID-19 Filipino deaths.

Come 2023, the Department of Health will remove food products with industrially-produced TFA. This is for the promotion of better health awareness on weight problems. The Food and Drugs Administration will set clear guidelines that shall mandate the complete removal of TFA from goods by the year 2023. Manufacturers are obliged to reformulate their products within the two years frame. They are encouraged to use alternative fat and oils that have the same function as TFA.


Economic crisis has pushed more Filipinos to rely on processed goods, fast food and stress eating. This indicates that obesity cases are not taken seriously the Philippines. While we cannot control every food that catches our eyes and tummies, we can certainly control our eating and exercising lifestyles. Self-care has never been more important now that COVID-19 cases randomly spikes from time to time. If you are obese and suspect of any comorbidities with COVID-19, you can try consulting doctors online. The MyPocketDoctor has been actively delivering both health information and telemedicine services. You can certainly enjoy these conveniences right at your fingertips by downloading the MyPocketDoctor APP and talking to our team of doctors about your health concerns. MyPocketDoctor can be contacted through its Facebook page and/or agent chat on the website You may check the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) through this website.