Temas Especiales

29 de Oct de 2020


Panama’s growth problem

Panama is changing. No I am not referring to the developers changing the skyline of our city, nor to about the new infrastructure going ...

Panama is changing. No I am not referring to the developers changing the skyline of our city, nor to about the new infrastructure going on in Panama, trying to catch up with the past real estate boom, even though they are factors. I am referring to ‘obesity’, a “growing” problem that is afflicting populations around the world, particularly in first world countries. From Patsy Gallant’s New York to LA and on round the world Round being the key word.

Closer to home, in less than five years Panamanian bodies have changed (mainly senoritas). I am surprised at how quickly this phenomenon has taken place. What makes it even more surprising is that, (dare I say it?). Panamanians are a people with a strong sense of personal vanity. So we have to ask ourselves what has happened to cause the changes across the waistlines.

Firstly, arguably there is a lot more wealth across the whole sphere of classes than there was five years ago. The middle class now have ‘Call Centers’ and at least three ‘New Malls’ have opened during this period employing thousands of additional workers. Admittedly the hours are long and the wages are poor. But at least they are working.

Tradesmen have been working throughout this period starting with the construction of the Centenary Bridge, then ongoing for many years building the towers of the Real Estate boom. Thousands are employed on the project to widen the Canal not to mention the ongoing building of the Coastal Strip. Even the rich have taken advantage in all activities making Panama one of the most sought after location for retirees, and tourism.

But one boom leads to another. The traditional Panamanian diet has been taken over by so called ‘fast food’ which is neither fast, nor food or appetizing, and is more expensive than your Senconcho and Tamal’s. New restaurants are opening daily to deliver to our diverse pallet. The problem is that most of this food is fattening other than the most expensive delicacy ‘sushi’. The dilemma with this food you need so much of it to deter your appetite to the point one would need a bank loan to frequent such establishments on a regular basis!

Thirdly, and probably the most important factor our sedentary pastimes. How many hours do teenagers sit in front of their computers doing homework, playing games and just chatting with their friends on chat lines and messaging one another?

If they have not got the money to own this technology, what about the multiple uses of the cell phone? I am afraid we are now in the technological world wher e one does not have to stand up to do anything. How many remote controls have you got on your coffee table?

I am not promoting a return to my childhood where a bicycle was a major accessory for a teenager as there were no computers, cell phones, and only black and white television (until I was a teenager). I live right opposite a school and I estimate that more than one in four students is overweight. That is the same statistic as the divorce rate!

Panama has an abundance of fresh fruit in its tropical climate. In addition to this most of the local food is organically grown. I know time is precious but so is your child’s health.

Does anybody walk anymore? Is everybody so paranoid about security and have become so obsessed with their air-conditioned vehicles that exercise is no longer needed.

Our shoreline runs over two thousand kilometers surrounded by crystal blue seas with a bounty of fresh fish, and is a natural healthy playground. But when I go to the Interior most of the people swimming are foreigners.

Panamanians should not take their natural beauty for granted. They have to work at it.