Rice vs. Obesity

In some cultures, obesity is a symbol of health, wealth and prosperity. Many influential figures are deemed elegant if they have excess fat. In reality, however, how true is that?

Do I need to worry about Obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health. A doctor will usually suggest that a person is obese if they have a high body mass index.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said that one in five adults will be obese by 2025 and nearly half of the Malaysian population is obese at the moment. Obesity has become prevalent even among infants and young children (from birth until 5 years old), which has caused an increase in the statistics from 32 million people in 1990 to 41 million people in 2016.

Obesity can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, stroke, gall stones, and some cancers like breast cancer, uterine cancer and colon cancer. This serious condition affects the quality of life and causes physical changes like breathlessness, snoring, sleep apnoea, tiredness, difficulties with physical activity and arthritis.

What causes obesity? What are my options?

For most people, obesity is caused by eating too much and moving too little. If one consumes high amounts of energy from his/her diet but does not burn off the energy through exercise or any form of physical activity, the surplus energy will turn into fat. 

Burning energy consumed through food could be challenging to our modern sedentary lifestyle. An alternative approach would be to make deliberate choices on one’s food intake.

Rice could be the key to end the ongoing battle against obesity around the world. New research that analyses data from more than 130 countries, showed that adding more rice to one’s daily diet could help reduce the risk of being overweight. 

The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA estimated that 39.8 percent of people in the U.S. are currently obese. However, in Japan, only 4.3 percent of the population are obese. This then led researchers from Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts in Kyoto, Japan, to study the factors that put many people in their country at a healthy or average weight. Their study found that Japan, along with other countries with low obesity cases, considers rice to be a staple food.

Healthy rice solution

There are many varieties of this popular grain that differs in colour, flavour, and nutritional value. Some are abundant in nutrients and contain powerful plant compounds that benefit health, while others have less impressive nutritional profiles. What qualities should one lookout for when choosing the right type of rice? Healthy and wholesome rice should be packed with antioxidants, vitamins, fibre, minerals, protein and have the lowest level of Glycaemic Index (GI). 

For example, Primera Red Rice is one of the best choices available in the market. Scientific studies conducted on the Primera Red Rice reveals that this variety contains 1.5 – 5.7 times more vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6, and 1.8 – 5.7 times more minerals compared to white rice. Primera Red Rice is also found to be rich in antioxidants, folate (2.5x higher), fibre (2.7x higher) and proteins (1.1x higher). The research also revealed that Primera Red Rice has the lowest GI score at 46, as compared to Basmati, Thai red rice and Jasmine white rice with scores respectively at 50, 55 and 77. Aside from that, Primera Red Rice is known to have a slightly nutty flavour and is pleasant to taste; thus making it the perfect choice for healthy living.

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