Obesity is a medical condition that puts your health at risk because of abnormal or excessive fat accumulation. The World Health Organization (WHO) says that obesity has reached epidemic levels around the world, and that more than 4 million people die each year because they are overweight or obese. All ages and socioeconomic groups are affected by obesity, but it is more common in low- and middle-income nations, particularly in urban areas (2).
Obesity is not just a cosmetic concern. It is a complex disease that involves genetic, physiological, environmental, and behavioral factors³. obesityy increases the risk of developing various chronic diseases and health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, certain cancers, gallbladder disease, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea and osteoarthritis¹³. Obesity also affects the quality of life and mental health of individuals and imposes a huge economic burden on health systems and society.
The main reason people get fat is that they take in more calories than they burn off. In other words, obesity occurs when people eat more than they burn through physical activity and metabolism. The modern way of life often encourages bad eating habits and being lazy, both of which lead to weight gain. Some examples are:
- Consuming high-calorie foods and beverages that are rich in sugar, fat and salt but low in nutrients
- Eating large portions or snacking frequently
- Skipping breakfast or other meals
- Eating out or ordering takeaways regularly
- Drinking alcohol excessively
- Spending long hours sitting at work or home
- Using cars or public transport instead of walking or cycling
- Watching TV or using electronic devices for leisure
Some people may have a higher risk of obesity due to genetic factors that affect their appetite regulation, metabolism or fat distribution. However, genes alone cannot explain the rapid rise of obesity in recent decades. Environmental factors such as availability, affordability and marketing of unhealthy foods also play a role in influencing people’s food choices. Additionally, some medical conditions (such as hypothyroidism or polycystic ovary syndrome), medications (such as steroids or antidepressants) or psychological factors (such as stress or depression) may cause weight gain or make it harder to lose weight.
The diagnosis of obesity is usually based on body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in meters squared. A BMI over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is obese². However,BMI does not directly measure body fat percentage and may not be accurate for some groups of people (such as athletes). Therefore, other methods such as waist circumference measurement or skinfold thickness measurement may be used to assess body fatness.
Obesity needs to be stopped on many levels, including the individual, the community, and the government. family, community, and policy.
Some evidence-based strategies for preventing obesity include⁴:
- Promoting healthy eating patterns that include more fruits,
vegetables,whole grains,lean protein sources,and healthy fats;
and limit intake of added sugars,saturated fats,
trans fats,and sodium.
- Increasing physical activity levels by creating supportive environments that encourage walking,cycling,recreation, and sports; and reducing sedentary behaviors such as screen time.
- Supporting breastfeeding initiation,
duration,and exclusivity; as breastfeeding may protect against childhood obesity.
- Implementing school-based interventions that provide nutrition education,
healthy food options, physical education classes, and opportunities for active play.
- Providing early care and education programs that follow national standards for nutrition and physical activity for young children.
- Engaging health care providers in screening for overweight and obesity;
providing counseling on diet and exercise;
and referring patients to weight management programs if needed.
- Adopting policies that regulate food marketing to children;
tax sugary drinks;
subsidize healthy foods;
restrict portion sizes;
improve food labeling;
and create incentives for healthy food production.
The best way to treat obesity depends on how bad it is and if there are any other problems. The main goals are to achieve a healthy weight; improve diet quality; increase physical activity; reduce health risks; and enhance well-being. The most effective interventions combine lifestyle changes with behavioral counseling; medication;
Obesity is a global health problem that needs help from all parts of society right away. By implementing effective prevention strategies; supporting individuals who struggle with their weight; and creating environments that promote healthy living; we can reverse this epidemic and improve the health
Source: Conversation with Bing, 3/22/2023(1) Prevention Strategies & Guidelines | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/resources/strategies-guidelines.html Accessed 3/22/2023.
(2) Obesity Prevention Strategies | Obesity Prevention Source | Harvard T.H …. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/obesity-prevention-source/obesity-prevention/ Accessed 3/22/2023.
(3) Preventing Childhood Obesity: 4 Things Families Can Do. https://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpao/features/childhood-obesity/index.html Accessed 3/22/2023.
(4) 1 Guidance | Obesity prevention | Guidance | NICE. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg43/chapter/1-guidance Accessed 3/22/2023.