FORUM: Healthy Choices: Embracing a Lifestyle

FORUM: Healthy Choices: Embracing a Lifestyle
Friday, August 24, 2012
Manila Doctors Hospital, 12th floor
8:00 AM - 12:00 noon



Forum on Healthy Food Choices  
Embracing a Healthy Lifestyle 


  • Background/ History/Directions

The 2011 Cochrane review of 55 clinical trials has emphasized that educating people on how to reduce their risk factors has not been effective in reducing sickness and deaths due to noncommunicable diseases. As such, we need to take concrete action on preventive health.

Also called “lifestyle diseases,” NCDs are a group of conditions that includes cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and chronic lung diseases. In the developing world, the Philippines is one of 23 countries that contribute around 80 percent of the total disease burden due to NCDs. Four of the 10 leading causes of death in the country are NCDs. The top three killers of Filipinos are heart disease, vascular diseases and cancer.

 In response to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global strategy for Diet, Physical Activity and Health, a consortium of health and nutrition experts, representatives from the food industry and together with government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health (DOH) was convened last January 2012 , to formulate a recommendatory guideline on the Front of Pack Labeling. This was aligned to the objective of DOH to curb obesity and diet-related diseases like diabetes, heart attack, cancers and strokes that contribute largely to the rise of Non Communicable Diseases in the country.

The multi sectoral Task Force reviewed and presented studies on front-of-pack labels that are being used in other countries and those that are already available in the Philippines. The task force evaluated each of the labels presented. The taskforce has proposed 'Wise Eat Certification' program to be the chosen 'stamp' for recommendatory guidelines primarily because it has a stringent criteria, it is based on current FDA Standards and internationally comparable.

The purpose of the Public Health Forum is not only to inform, influence and inspire all concerned stakeholders on making wise food choices but to also include solid action plan for the Certification Program. The Public Health Forum aims to add value to the society in pushing for policies that will enable people to embrace a healthy lifestyle.

Tony Leachon, M.D.

Director, Information,  Publications, and Public Affairs Office (IPPAO )

University of the Philippines, Manila

Consultant of the Department of Health on Noncommunicable Diseases

Corporate Secretary, Philippine College of Physicians


  • Certification Program for food manufacturers and food service establishments. 

The Global Strategy for Diet, Physical Activity and Health released by the World
Health Organization ( WHO) showed that an enabling environment that  promotes and protects health will lead to reduced disease and death rates related to unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle.  A marked increase in the cases of non-communicable /chronic/lifestyle diseases has been observed globally.  There seems to be a misunderstanding that chronic lifestyle diseases affect high income countries only and controlling infectious diseases should come first before lifestyle diseases.  The WHO contends that in reality, low and middle income countries are at the center of both old and new public health challenges.  While infectious diseases remain a problem , a rapid upsurge in chronic disease risk factors foretell a devastating future burden of controlling a possible epidemic.   Sixty percent ( 60%) of deaths worldwide are due to these non-communicable  diseases.  This trend has been seen in the Philipines.  More than 44 million Filipinos have one of these:  obesity, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases. 

With this in mind,  the World Health Organization, through the Department of Health ( DOH), commissioned the Nutritionist-Dietitian’s Association of the Philippines ( NDAP) to establish guidelines on healthy food choices which will serve as a basis for a Certification Program for food manufacturers and food service establishments.  The goal is to attain a healthy Filipino through nutritious  and wise eating.

Establish criteria on key nutrients chosen by a DOH/NDAP
                        Technical Working Group :  fat, sugar, sodium, and dietary fiber.

            - Process and certify manufactured food products and prepared dishes                                served in  food establishments as “Wise Eat” based on specific
            -  Confer the “ Wise Eat
stamp for use on food labels, point of purchase  in                                   markets/ supermarkets,  menu cards in food  establishments, or                                  printed in facades or signages of food establishments.
( Note that  Wise Eat ”  stamp symbolizes the added health protection                                                      given by a certified food product) 

Fat, sugar, sodium, were identified in the Global Strategy of WHO as  highly correlated with the onset of non-communicable diseases. On the other hand, dietary fiber has been associated with the prevention and deferment of the onset of non-communicable diseases  among individuals at high risk.

The Certification Program shall not cover carbonated beverages, infant formula, milk for children < 3 years old, milk for special dietary use, complementary food, confectioneries, including chewing gum, cooking oil, juice / flavored drinks,  sports and energy drinks, alcoholic/carbonated beverages, extruded snack foods, fats and oils.

Why is there a need for Wise Eat Certified products ?

The setting in of a certain level of prosperity similar to the way Westerners live has hastened the development of lifestyle diseases in the Philippines.  The World Health Organization cites  unhealthy diet as one contributing but modifiable risk factor. With consumers becoming health-conscious, they look for protective food choices. Hence, nutrition experts recommend certifying food products controlled in fat, sugar, sodium, elements  that could put consumers at risk of disease. Since fiber is highly beneficial to body’s functions,  its presence in adequate amounts is also certified. Wise Eat certified products will meet the needs of the consumer while creating a demand from food manufacturers and food service establishments supply of these products.   

Three facts about lifestyle diseases:
          -  No. 1 cause of death and disability in the developed countries                        -  They take decades to become fully established;
                        they have their origins at younger ages.
           -  They can be prevented and controlled.

For more information on NCDs, visit :


Criteria for WISE EAT Certification

  • based on Codex Alimentarius WHO FAO Food Labelling:  Guidelines for Use of Nutrition and Health Claims. ( CAC/GL 23-1997) 5th ed. 2007.
  • excludes following products:  infant formula,  milk for children below 3 years old, complimentary food, confectioneries including chewing gum, carbonated/alcoholic beverages, juice/flavored drinks, sports/energy drinks, extruded snack foods, fats and oils
  • meet one or more of the following criteria :






£ 3 grams/100 g solids or

£ 1.5 g/100 ml liquid





£ 1.5 g per 100 g solid or 
£ 0.75 g per 100 ml liquid

 £ 10% of calorie content



≤ 0.02/100g solids or
≤ 0.01g/100ml liquid


Very Low

≤ 0.12 g/ 100 g

≤ .04 g / 100 g 
< .005 g /100 g


Low added sugar            

≤ 5 g/ 100 g solids or

≤ 2.5 g/ 100 ml liquid

≤ 0.5 g/100 g solids or
≤ 0.5 g /100 ml liquid

Dietary FIBER

Source of Fiber


≥ 3 g/100 g or 1.5 g/ 100 kcal
≥ 6 g/100 g or 3 g/100 kcal

The other nutrients present in the product, aside from the particular nutrition
claim being applied for, should also meet the following recommended amounts. 
 These estimated values are based on a 2000 kcalorie diet for adults.

Recommended Values per 100 kcalories of the Product


Daily value /100 kcal


3.25 g

Saturated fat

1.0 g


15 mg


120 mg

Added sugar

1.5 g

Source dietary fiber

1.25 g