Obesity can be defined as excess fat (adipose) tissue. Today, it is one of the most common medical conditions that has kept medical researchers awake trying to find new medical approaches to curb it. It is believed to be the number one cause of mortality, disability and morbidity in the United States of America.
It has proved to be very costly both health-wise and financially to both the people and the government. Obesity is estimated to cost Americans a whopping $190 billion annually. Most of this money is spent on treatments and research. People with obesity experience social pressure in the form of mistreatment and discrimination, which is unfortunately treated as something normal.
Body Mass Index (BMI) calculation
Body Mass Index (BMI) is one of the most common techniques used to determine the excess fat (adipose) tissue in the body. BMI is found by calculating a person’s height and weight irrespective of other factors like gender, race, family history and age. It involves the division of a person’s body weight by his or her height. The units for measurement can be either kilograms for body weight verses meters for height, or pounds (lbs) for body weight verses inches squared for height.
Fat is a cell in the endocrine while adipose is an endocrine organ. A number of products are secreted from the adipose tissue including cytokines, metabolites, lipids and coagulation factors. When adipose tissue is in excess (obesity), fatty acids that circulate in the body are increased possibly leading to inflammation. This may eventually lead to insulin resistance and more severe health complications such as type 2 diabetes.
Biologically, food intake is a complicated process that involves autonomic or metabolic information and emotional responses that tell the brain when it is time to eat or to finish eating. Studies suggest that there is a presence of numerous substances that play the role of alerting the brain about the time to decide the increase or decrease of food intake. Other biological factors involved in food intake are taste, smell (olfaction), temperature and texture.
What the studies say
Studies suggest that 78 million Americans (one third of the U.S. adult population) are directly or indirectly affected by obesity. This number has been steadily increasing since the 1960s and has not shown any sign of improvement except for slowing down a little in recent years. Statistics show that 69% of American adults are either overweight or obese. These alarming facts have kept medical researches on their toes as they try to figure out how to reverse the trend.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated the deaths caused by obesity and the related medical conditions to be around 112,000 per year. Obesity can lead to more than thirty known chronic health complications. Some of these conditions include:
- High cholesterol
- Type 2 diabetes
- Diseases related to the liver
- Diseases of the heart
- Birth defects and miscarriage
- Asthma and other complications of the respiratory system
- Different types of cancers and many other complications
Obesity has been recognized as a global health disaster due to the consistent increase in number of people affected by it. It has been ranked among other major international problems such as high blood pressure, unsafe sex, unsafe water, drug abuse, poor maternal and childhood nutrition to name a few.
Lifestyle changes alone is not enough to help a person with obesity in losing weight as other treatment strategies must also be applied. In some individuals, obesity medications must be combined with other forms of treatment such as surgery and exercise to make it effective. So far, no individual medication has proven to eradicate obesity by itself. Unlike other related diseases, only 6 drugs have been approved to offer long- term treatment for obesity. Research is still ongoing to find more effective drugs.
What you need to know about obesity
- Obesity develops as a result of the imbalance between calories taken and calories used. Eating foods with a lot of calories require a relative amount of physical activity for the balance to take place. Taking plenty of calories with no physical activity to burn will result in the energy imbalance that would eventually lead to weight gain and obesity.
- According to the WHO, an adult is said to be overweight if his or her BMI is 25 or more and is declared as obese if his or her BMI is at 30 or more.
- A person’s environment and community plays a major role in determining his or her choices regarding obesity. Certain communities and environment can be supportive in the fight against obesity by providing healthy choices and healthy lifestyles making it easy for a person to lead a healthy life. This may be through provision of recreation places like parks and gyms that encourage physical activities or making healthy diets affordable and available to most people.
- Children are influenced mostly by their family’s general policies on eating and dieting. However, they can also be influenced by their surroundings or people they spend most of their time with. This may be in areas of transport, education and recreation among others. Children who are surrounded by people who don’t encourage healthy diets are more likely to develop weight related health conditions in future.
- Obesity and overweight has been linked to more deaths globally compared to being underweight. Statistics have shown that the number of people dying in middle-income and high-income countries as a result of obesity and weight-related health conditions has surpassed cases of deaths caused by malnutrition and other underweight issues.
- Being overweight and obese has become one of the biggest health challenges of the 21st century. Statistics show that in 2013 alone, 42 million preschool children were declared to be overweight. Sadly, most of these overweight children might end up being obese in their adulthood. This makes them more prone to weight- related health complications such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes at a relatively younger age.
- A healthy diet can help keep obesity at bay. Maintaining a healthy diet can go a long way in keeping you healthy and safe from obesity and diseases that come with it. Here are a few characteristics of a healthy diet:
- Lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses and nuts
- Minimal salt and sugar intake
- Minimal fat intake among others
Physical exercises or activities are a good way of keeping obesity at bay. People who engage in regular work outs or physical activities reduce their chances of becoming obese or having any weight related complications. A minimum of a thirty minute intense physical activity on most days is enough to reduce your chances of getting obesity, diabetes, colon and breast cancer among many other diseases.
Obesity has proven to be pandemic and catastrophic to the modern population due to our ever changing lifestyles among other reasons. As in all the other diseases, prevention of obesity is way better than treating it since it has proven to be costly in many ways. Adapting preventive measures such as healthy eating habits and regular exercises will not only save lives, but will also save money and time. This will surelyl help in capping the number of obesity cases recorded annually.