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SINGAPORE, January 2022 — The current pandemic has raised more awareness of the importance of health and better care of oneself. Dr. Ivan Puah, Medical Director at Amaris B. Clinic shares how people’s lifestyles and priorities have changed since Covid-19 started.
01. Losing weight and regaining health: COVID-19 is more deadly in people with obesity
Obesity is a growing issue and can be life-threatening, as those who are gravely affected by this virus are seemingly obese individuals. In a meta-analysis published in Obesity Reviews , data showed that people with obesity who contracted the coronavirus were more likely than people of healthy weight to end up hospitalised. They were also more likely to be admitted into the ICU and face a higher mortality rate, as obesity can impair the body’s immunity and cause chronic inflammation and even blood clots.
Obesity is a worrying issue worldwide, including in Singapore, where many have gained significant weight during this pandemic due to reduced activity level, chronic stress, comfort eating and many other factors. Governments are advocating the importance of eating less, eating right, and exercising to slow down the rate of obesity.
According to Dr. Ivan Puah, the number of people seeking weight reduction and management at his practice has significantly increased. “No doubt the health issues arising from this pandemic are multifold, but fortunately, most people are aware of the impact of weight gain on their body, health and joints, and are seeking appropriate medical advice and treatment to lose weight safely and effectively. “
02. Changing the way we eat: Flexitarian diet
In the last decade, the number of people who identify themselves as vegans has risen to 350 percent in the UK and 600 percent in the US . Eating healthy and forgoing meat from dietary intake is a rising trend.
In Singapore, according to a survey conducted by YouGov, 2 in 5 of Singaporeans are currently on a flexitarian diet, where plant-based foods are encouraged, while the intake of meat and other animal products are to be consumed in moderation . The main reason cited in adopting a plant-based diet is for health. The other reasons include
- concerns over health risks in meat or fish production (37 percent),
- the healthiness of processed meat (32 percent), and
- environmental reasons (24 percent).
Dr. Ivan Puah opines that consuming the right portion of food and incorporating a healthy lifestyle is still the most plausible method to get and stay healthy. Commitment to self-care that extends beyond just food and lifestyle is equally important, as what we eat plays a vital role in our wellbeing.
03. Covid has changed the way we view ourselves and, self-care with cosmetic or aesthetics surgeries continues
Apart from health, the onset of Covid-19 and its uncertainties has taken a heavy toll on many, such as causing fat accumulation, chronic stress, and premature ageing, thus affecting one’s confidence and outlook of life. Body shaping procedures such as liposuction and age-defying treatments like non-surgical skin lifting, botulinum toxins and dermal fillers continue to be highly sought-after.
“We are living in a different world now compared to 10 to 15 years ago. Back then, aesthetic treatments or cosmetic surgeries such as liposuction were taboo. It is a hush-hush affair but nowadays, people openly discuss the benefits of the treatments. They opt for wrinkle-smoothing injections or dermal fillers as part of their self-care regime or to slow ageing. As for liposuction, having performed this procedure for nearly 2 decades, it is encouraging to see that this effective permanent fat removal treatment is viewed in a more positive light than before. Vanity is not the main reason for those opting for liposuction, but for health benefits and self-care purposes, “says Dr. Ivan Puah.
04. Protecting mental health with mindfulness practice
The impact of Covid-19 is beyond comprehension. It seems that we have yet to see the light at the end of the tunnel, with new variants emerging forcing governments around the world to adopt a “stop-go-stop” management in this fight. There is emerging evidence showing the negative impact of Covid-19 on mental health around the globe, leading to a post-traumatic stress disorder, distress, depression, insomnia, and anxiety across the population .
“Thankfully, various types of mental health management are available, such as mindfulness meditation, therapy, and breathing exercises that can help. The current uncertainties have enforced that certain things are beyond our control. The thing we can control is taking the time to care for ourselves,” shares Dr. Ivan Puah.
 Popkin, BM, Du, S, Green, WD, et al. Individuals with obesity and COVID-19: A global perspective on the epidemiology and biological relationships. Obesity Reviews. 2020; 21:e13128. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13128
 Lee, S., & Goldblatt, J. (2020). Special Events: The Brave New World for Bolder and Better Live Events.
 Ho, K. (2020, February 20). The future is flexitarian. YouGov. Retrieved January 6, 2022, from https://sg.yougov.com/en-sg/news/2020/02/20/future-flexitarian/
 Zhu, J.L., Schülke, R., Vatansever, D. et al. Mindfulness practice for protecting mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transl Psychiatry 11, 329 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-021-01459-8