Obesity: What you should know about the chronic disease

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Fats play significant roles within our bodies, ranging from supply of energy, shock absorption to body protection. However, not all types of fats are good for your health. Medical experts have proposed the use of healthy fats over unhealthy ones or unsaturated over-saturated. Excess fats are linked to poor health because they are associated with weight gain. When an individual gains too much weight, they are susceptible to obesity, which makes health vulnerable.

Obesity definition and measurement

Obesity is defined as having excess body fat (World Health Organization). It is outlined by Body Mass Index (BMI), which is determined by a person’s height and weight. BMI is obtained by dividing a person’s weight in kilogram (kg) by their height in meters squared. It is simple to find out whether a person is obese or not by checking their BMI. An individual with a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 has normal weight, whereas those with a BMI of 25 and above are considered as obese.

2016 World Health Report on obesity.

Obesity is one of the health challenges facing the 21st century. Those with excess weight are more likely to die earlier than people with underweight, according to the World Health Report 2016 on obesity. The report revealed that more than 1.9 billion adults by the year 2016 were obese and the number has hit 2.1 billion in 2019 according to the World Population Review report.

The scourge is also common among children, regardless of the age. Almost 41 million children under the age of 5 had excess weight in 2016 with nearly half of them hailing from Asia continent. Besides that, over 340 million children and adolescents between the age of 5 to 19 were overweight in the same year – an increase from 4 per cent to 18 per cent in 1975.

Unlike in the past when obesity was associated with the rich and developed countries, of late the menace has penetrated into the most of less developed nations. This is attributed to the high cost of healthy food and a shortage of food.

Most obese countries

The 2019 World Population Review shows that Nauru is the most obese country in the world, with 61 per cent of its population having an average BMI of 32.5. Tonga, Samoa, Kuwait are in the second, third and fourth positions respectively, with an average BMI of 30 and above. Others are Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Kiribati, Palau, Micronesia and Tuvalu.

least obese countries

On the other hand, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Nepal, Eritrea and Madagascar are the least obese countries with the obesity rate lower than 2 per cent.

Causes of obesity

There are many ways through which one can become obese; the first one is the lack of physical exercise. Other causes are:

Overeating: Taking a lot of food rich in fats and sugar leads to weight gain

A diet in simple carbohydrates:  Simple carbohydrates are those that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream. They include sugars, soft drinks, wine, beer and fructose. They increase the rate of insulin in the body which hastes the rate at which the body gains weight.

Medication: Certain medications such as antipsychotics, antidepressants and diabetes medication change the function of an individual’s body and brain, thus decreasing metabolic rate or surge appetite and as a result weight is gained.

Genetics: Children born by obese parents are likely to become overweight in comparison to those conceive by thin parents.

Psychological factors: In some circumstances, those who undergo through boredom, anger, stress and sadness eat excess food, which leads to obesity.

Food availability: Junks and processed food are available everywhere, anytime and they easily catch attention. Avoiding those junk foods like hamburgers, deep-fries, ice creams, chips, etc. could reduce your weight and keep you considerably healthy.  

Overweight people are predisposed to chronic diseases such as insulin resistance, hypertension,  diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, gout, gallstones and some cancers like cancer of the rectum, colon, prostate, uterus and breast cancer.

Treatment of obesity is not a short term step; it requires much time and resources. Therefore, it is an individual responsibility to learn to control their eating habits and alter their lifestyle to avoid obesity. It is not too late to start and take the right step now.

Photo: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278973/