In today’s modern human civilization, society is characterized by a so-called fast lifestyle. We constantly struggle to hide our flaws in our everyday lives behind the mask of a fast lifestyle. As a result, society has been submerged in a dirty dump of diseases and nonsensical habits. Obesity is one of the greatest challenges to modern human civilization. And it is also a major contributor to the majority of the diseases of this era. However, in most cases, it is a self-made disease. Obesity is a dangerous illness. But it is also a common sign of many other systemic diseases. Obesity also raises the risk of developing other diseases. As a result, the WHO declared obesity to be a “global issue in human society.”
- Obesity has almost tripled worldwide since 1975.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion people aged 18 and up were overweight. Over 650 million of these people were obese.
- The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where being obese or excessive weight kills more people than underweight.
- In the year 2019, 38 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese.
- In 2016, over 340 million children and teenagers aged 5 to 19 were excessive weight or obese.
- Obesity is preventable.
What are obesity and excessive weight?
Obesity and excessive weight are characterized as unhealthy or excessive fat accumulations, which can damage one’s health.
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple weight-for-height index to classify adults as excessive or obese. You can calculate it by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters (kg/m2).
WHO describes excessive weight and obesity in adults as follows:
- Being excessive weight means having a BMI greater than or equal to 25; and
- Obesity is characterized as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher.
As it is the same for both sexes and adults, BMI is the most useful population-level indicator of excessive weight and obesity. However, you should consider it a rough guide. This is because it may not lead to the same degree of fatness in different individuals.
2. Children under the age of 5
For children under the age of five:
- Being excessively overweight means having a weight-for-height ratio of more than two standard deviations above the WHO Child Growth Standards median.
- Obesity is characterized as having a BMI-for-age that is more than two standard deviations higher than the WHO Growth Reference median.
3. Children aged 5 to 19 years
For children aged 5–19 years, excessive weight and obesity are described as follows:
- Excessive weight means having a BMI-for-age greater than one standard deviation above the WHO Growth Reference median
- Obesity means having a BMI-for-age greater than two standard deviations above the WHO Growth Reference median.
What factors lead to obesity and excessive weight?
Obesity and excessive weight are caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. On a global scale, there has been:
- An increase in the consumption of energy-dense foods high in fat and sugars
- A rise in physical inactivity due to many professions’ increasingly sedentary nature, changing modes of transportation, and increased urbanization
- Environmental and social changes associated with growth and a lack of supportive policies in health, agriculture, transportation, urban planning, the environment, food processing, distribution, marketing, and education often cause changes in dietary and physical activity patterns.
What are the most common health consequences of being obese or excessive weight?
A high body mass index (BMI) is a significant risk factor for non-communicable diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart attack and stroke), which were the leading causes of death in 2012
- Musculoskeletal disorders (particularly osteoarthritis, a severely disabling degenerative joint disease)
- Some types of cancer (including cancers of the endometrial, breast, ovary, uterus, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon)
Childhood obesity is linked to an increased risk of adult obesity, premature death, and disability. On the other hand, excessive weight children have:
- Breathing difficulties
- An increased risk of fractures
- Early markers of cardiovascular disease
- Insulin resistance
- Psychological effects
Excessive weight a result of human civilization?
Obesity is not necessarily the result of overeating and a lack of exercise but is a result of modern life.
According to Foresight, weight gain is a much more passive phenomenon than is commonly thought. And it does not result simply from people’s actions, such as overindulgence or laziness.
The twentieth-century technological revolution has made weight gain inevitable for most people. This is because our bodies and biological makeup are out of harmony with our surroundings.
Stocking up on food was essential for survival in prehistoric times. Still, with energy-dense, low-cost foods, labor-saving machines, motorized transportation, and sedentary jobs, obesity is increasingly becoming a modern-day health condition.
A project, supported by the British Department of Health, results from a two-year study into the causes of obesity involving nearly 250 experts and scientists. They estimated that the obesity “epidemic” will take at least 30 years.
Until now, the government’s obesity strategy has concentrated on encouraging people, especially children, to live a healthier lifestyle by eating less fattening foods and having more exercise.
For the first time, Foresight has gathered complex evidence to show that we must reject the notion that the current obesity crisis results from individual overindulgence or laziness. Personal responsibility is important. But their research shows that the problem is much more complex.
It is a wake-up call for the world, showing that only change in many aspects of society can combat obesity.
According to the researchers, there is no one “magic bullet” solution. Even a modern appetite-suppressing treatment does not solve the problem because it is systemic.
Obesity, like climate change, requires various societal shifts, ranging from increasing daily activity in the design of the built environment and transportation systems to shifting the drivers of the food chain and customer buying patterns to support healthier options.
According to one study, evidence shows that even though you don’t meet the ideal weight, losing a small amount of weight will help you reduce your risk factors.
If current obesity trends persist, 60 percent of adults, 50 percent of women, and 25 percent of children in the United States will be obese by 2050, according to the researchers. Chronic health conditions are estimated to cost society an extra 45.5 billion pounds each year.
We have made progress in:
- Increased school-based physical activity
- Tougher limits on the promotion of high-fat and high-sugar foods
- Better food labeling
- Children’s safe school lunches
Still, we have to remember that we must go further and faster.
Childhood obesity remains an “important cross-government priority,” with the target of decreasing the proportion of excessive weight children to 2000 levels by 2020.
Lifestyle preferences, cultural environment, schooling, socioeconomic status, and environmental factors all play important roles in the global obesity epidemic. It is important to emphasize that all of the given reasons for the increased levels of obesity are based on assumptions. It is important to develop long-term strategies for maintaining a balanced lifestyle. The most important action for people to take is to accept personal responsibility for their health. There is no question that primary prevention is the most effective strategy for addressing this growing public health problem.