On a global scale, obesity has reached a significant peak over the last couple of years.
It has affected a large percentage of the world’s population, making this health issue attain epidemic proportions.
As such, it is no wonder why multinational organizations and health authorities have raised concern, embarking on awareness campaigns and struggling to lay down measures to put a stop to growing obesity statistics before it is too late.
In this article, let us look into the alarming issue of obesity and how its impact has stretched far across the globe, with the aim to become part of the change that we continue to promote.
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The World Health Orgnaization (WHO) defines obesity as a medical condition that is manifested by an abnormal fat accumulation that is considered excessive by normal standards.
Left untreated, it can become a chronic condition with a potential to debilitate primary physical and internal functions of the body.
Hence, it is not just a cosmetic concern but an alarming case that can lead to complications and even death.
To determine if an adult person is overweight or obese, the WHO has two classifications based on Body Mass Index (BMI):
- Overweight – BMI of greater or equal to 25
- Obese – BMI of greater or equal to 30
On the other hand, here are the classifications for children age 0 to 5 years:
- Overweight – having a weight-for-height score of greater than 2 deviations above the median
- Obese – having a weight-for-height score of greater than 3 deviations above the median
- In 2016, the obesity rate on a global scale had increased by three times since 1975.
- More than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and above had been diagnosed as overweight in 2016. Out of this population, approximately 650 million were obese.
- 39% of adults aged 18 and up were overweight in 2016, while 16% of it consisted of obese.
- Most of the world’s population reside in countries where there is a higher mortality rate for the obese than underweight citizens.
- Children aged 0 to 5 years old belonged to the 410 million who were either overweight or obese in 2016.
- In 2016, more than 340 million youngsters aged 5 to 19 were overweight or obese.
- In Africa, the number of overweight children aged 0 and up has reached 50% more since the beginning of the new millennium.
Obesity Facts and Trends
- Initially, obesity had only been affecting high-income countries, but recent studies revealed that it is now an epidemic spreading through the low and middle-income nations.
- Many chronic and terminal illnesses have been attributed to overweight and obesity such as diabetes, ischemic heart disease and certain cancers.
- A leading cause of obesity in an individual is the increased diet of energy-dense food while living a sedentary lifestyle.
- In a study of obesity statistics, it is concluded that a decreased physical activity contributes to an energy imbalance, which in turn causes excessive weight gain.
- WHO points to urbanization and environmental changes for contributing to the changes in dietary pattern and lifestyle of the people.
- The said organization has also expressed concern regarding the lack of cooperation coming from various sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, and the food trade across the globe.
- A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has revealed that obesity was responsible for the 4 million deaths in the year 2015, with 2/3 of the said population dying from heart diseases linked to obesity.
- WHO also revealed that children’s diet is being influenced by environmental factors and society norms.
- The same organization, through the campaign dubbed as Action Plan for Global Strategy for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases, aims to curb growing obesity cases in the world by initiating surveillance, control and management of the weight disorder.
- Genetics can be a reason for obesity in which bodily functions such as metabolism are directly influenced by a person’s DNA.
- A trend in obesity typically runs in the family due to shared diet practices and culturally-influenced lifestyle.
- Limited mobility due to joint pains and arthritis may also lead to obesity.
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, antipsychotic drugs and medicines prescribed for diabetics generally cause weight gain as side-effect.
- Economic factors such that the well-offs typically dine in fast foods and the lower class having no better substitute for unhealthy foods are also affecting the obesity rates.
- Aging has also been considered one of the causes of excessive weight gain due to the hormonal and caloric changes the body undergoes.
- Although fats accumulated during pregnancy can be shed off, many mothers have been having a hard time getting back to normal weight, which doctors believe may lead to development of obesity.
- Obesity is also linked to some cases of smoking withdrawals wherein previous smokers gain excessive weight as part of quitting the habit.
- Lack of sleep is among the possible causes of obesity in adults due to the fluctuations in hormonal activity that directly impacts one’s appetite.
- Cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke have been named the leading causes of death in 2012 and are being linked to obesity complications.
- Childhood obesity, if not corrected early on, can lead to disability and complications in adulthood.
- American Samoa in the South Pacific topped the list of highest obesity rate by country in 2017, beating the US and UK which ranked 18th and 43rd respectively. Its obesity rate hit 74.6%, making the large part of the Samoan population obese.
- A 2014 report on the diet patterns of the South Pacific countries suggested that the islanders’ preference for junk, fast food and fried meals stemmed from colonial influences.
The global obesity statistics are becoming an alarming concern as they continue to rise exponentially in the succeeding years.
While initiatives and advocacies that aim to battle obesity have been successfully raising awareness of the disorder, a much better option is to instil among ourselves and our families the sense of urgency to fight obesity on the basic level—through a healthy lifestyle and diet practices.
If we continue to work together against this problem, we might be able to hamper the growth of obesity rates gradually.
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