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Feb 04th
Home Columns San Diego Happenings 'Unhealthy' Food Abounds in Filipino Restaurants
'Unhealthy' Food Abounds in Filipino Restaurants PDF Print E-mail
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Columns - San Diego Happenings
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 09:15

PHILIPPINE VILLAGE VOICE - Redefining Community News
BREAKING NEWS -  Exclusive
Volume 2, Issue No. 3 / News Without Fear or Favor /

The News UpFront: (TOP STORY) as of Wednesday, January 30, 2008 

Foods rich in oil, sugar and salt are the staple of many Filipino restaurants in San Diego. Patrons don't seem to mind and they just gobble up. A study, however, finds these kinds of foods "unhealthy". A local organization, the Kalusugan Community Services, short of sounding the alarm, suggests changes in the menu, hoping it would trigger a radical shift to healthy eating. 

'Unhealthy' Food Abounds in Filipino Restaurants
Member, Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE), Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) and National Press Club of the Philippines-USA.
SAN DIEGO Nutrition experts have found that many San Diego Filipino restaurants offer "few healthy choices" in meals, and that most generally served a variety of food they consider "unhealthy".
Notwithstanding the unspoken warning in that conclusion, one of the community's top restaurateurs said the decision of what a person eats -- healthy or un -- is best left to the individual himself.
A California Endowment-funded survey conducted by a local organization, the Kalusugan Community Services, revealed findings that may well provide evidence of the pernicious effects of uncontrolled eating habits which in turn breed health risks.
 conchingbakery   YGP3206.tmp   turoturo 
The abundance of cheap food, notably meat, is driving Filipinos to wolf them down, unmindful of the potential health problems, while restaurants seemed to exacerbate an already tricky situation by serving meals above and beyond normal standards of healthy.
Super-sizing and the limitless all-you-can-eat have caught up with the current trend among conservative Filipino eateries and are proving to be a bane in the campaign for healthy eating.
The KCS' pilot study done from September through December 2007 concluded that majority of Filipino restaurants "offer few healthy choices" -- which was significant in the light of current efforts to reduce health risks attendant in eating.
"Right now, there's no place to eat healthy," says Dr. Ofelia Dirige, KCS executive director, who also heads the team that conducted the survey of 13 out of 21 Filipino restaurants in the community of Mira Mesa and suburban National City.
But KCS president Dr. Riz Oades qualified Dirige's statement: "Even us know that our food is unhealthy," noting the high presence of cooking oil, sugar and salt, among others, in practically all food items consumed in these restaurants in San Diego.
So much unlike in the Philippines where, Oades claims, "traditionally Filipino dishes are basically healthy" with the right balance of fish, vegetables and fruits.
He said the fact that meat is cheap here and quite expensive in the Philippines explains the difference in eating preferences, a practice that is sure to trigger problems related to obesity, heart and other diseases.
The KCS' Healthy Eating Campaign funded by The California Endowment was targeted to help solve those health issues that are chronic in the Filipino community, which as it stands out now has an estimated 200,000 population.
Oades claims KCS is the only one doing the study in Filipino communities throughout the United States and may, in fact, be trailblazing for other organizations. The study may also bring some changes in dietary practice of Filipinos.
"We're against super-sizing, combination plates and this all-you-can-eat stuff," stresses Dirige who encourages prudence in the selection and consumption of food.
She notes that five restaurants abet super-sizing by serving too much rice and two others by having all-you-can-eat menus.
Akin to these, the study says, is the finding that the restaurants surveyed "are not encouraging their customers to eat healthy" nor were there billboards or posters on healthy eating.

To which Conching Orpilla, owner of the popular restaurant that bears her name, responds in Tagalog: "Walang rule sa eating" (there's no rule in eating).

She explains that her eatery offers wide selection of about 30 food items. "If customers want healthy, I have healthy and quality food," she adds.
Conching's, which started out as a coffee and ice cream parlor 20 years ago in the same location, has been a landmark establishment for its generous servings of rice and viands at an affordable price.
 Its popularity has given way to an expansion -- the opening of a 24-hour food service on weekends at its second-floor site on Eighth St., in National City.
"The selection of what food to eat is an individual's personal choice," says Orpilla who grew up in a restaurant in her parent's kitchen in Baguio City, Philippines before moving to the United States.
The survey noted that six restaurants had one favorable finding for them -- that they serve healthy dish entrees which included fresh lumpia, sinigang na hipon, bangus or salmon; grilled or barbecued chicken, shrimp or tahong; beef tapa, and nilagang baka or manok.
These are the "few healthy choices" available to the public, the nutrition experts wrote in their findings. Still, the KCS is trying to suggest more healthy options, including cutting the size of servings for weight-conscious patrons.
But Point-Point Joint, the 24-year-old restaurant that institutionalized the Filipinos' habit of pointing (turo-turo) to the food they want, has been cooking healthy as evident in its entrees, according to manager Soledad de Castro.
"For me, I encourage our customers to eat healthy. I recommend the food which are healthy," de Castro states.
"The fact that two adult care centers in National City picked us to cater their food is an affirmation that our food is healthy," she proudly declares.
Oades said the study will continue for several months until its two-year term is completed.
He said its significance lies in the prospect of revolutionizing the eating practice and dietary habits of Filipinos towards healthy alternatives.
KCS, according to a press statement, is in the forefront of educating Filipinos on what causes heart attacks, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and other diseases.
The other restaurants which joined the survey were Villa Manila, Goldilocks, Lutong Bahay, Bechay's Pancit & Grill, R& B Cuisine and Manila Fast Food.

. . . . . A community service of San Diego's Philippine Village Voice ( or at 619.265.0611) for the information and better understanding of the public. . . . . .

(This Breaking News may be posted online, broadcast or reprinted, on condition that the author and the publication be properly credited. By Romeo P. Marquez, Editor, Philippine Village Voice, San Diego, California. Mailing address: P.O. Box 2118, La Jolla, CA. 92038. Volume 2, Issue no. 3, January 30, 2008).

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 30 January 2008 09:52

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