Overweight and obesity prevalence in Cuba reached 43 per cent in 2001 and it is very likely that the number is now even higher. In this developing country — where all are entitled to health care — population-wide weight gain foreshadows a heavier chronic disease burden and an unbearable financial cost for the health system, says Manuel Hernández-Triana in MEDICC, the International Journal of Cuban Health & Medicine.
After measuring total energy expended by pre-schoolers in rural areas, small towns and large urban centres in Cuba, researchers found that only boys in rural areas and small towns carry out the required 60 daily minutes of moderate physical activity. This is the minimum advised in the 2008 nutritional recommendations for the Cuban population.
Boys in urban settings and girls in all the studied areas carried out only between 31 and 38 minutes of physical activity a day.
The island has managed to reduce infant mortality and childhood malnutrition, improve health services and increase the educational levels of the entire population. However, the author adds, “these advances can boomerang if we are not capable of taking convincing, prompt and coordinated inter-sectoral action to alter lifestyles that have already resulted in increasing rates of obesity, atherosclerosis, diabetes and other chronic conditions."
MEDICC Review. 2010; 12(2):0.