Today daily habits and diets allow people from all ages to gain weight easily than before the end of 20th century. The lack of exercises and high consumption of high calories foods lead into the increase numbers of obesity cases. Moreover, the number of health problems that follows obesity has been also rapidly increased. This is the reason why is obesity a problem globally.
What is Overweight as well as obesity?
The WHO defines overweight as well as obesity as an excessive fat accumulation over a normal Body Mass Index (BMI) that may detrimental to health. BMI is an index of comparison of weight and height to classify overweight as well as obesity in kilograms divided by the square of height that is measured in meters (kg/m2). That index is commonly used to measure overweight or obesity in adults of both sexes and all ages. A normal or healthy adult has BMI range from 18.5 to 24.9. Meanwhile, an overweight adult has BMI greater than or the same as 25 and obese adult has BMI greater than or the same as 30.
The Recent Issues of Obesity
According to the data facts from WHO, the number of overweight worldwide has been reached more than 1.9 billion in 2014 and over 600 million were obese. These numbers were doubled since 1980, mostly in 18 years and older adults. Even in 2013, about 42 million children under 5 years old were overweight and obese. Rather than high-income countries, lower and middle income countries showed an increased numbers of childhood overweight as well as obesity more than 30% higher, particularly in urban areas. Moreover, the numbers also linked to more deaths than malnutrition and underweight worldwide. These facts showed us about the reason why is obesity a problem that highly needs particular concern globally.
The Cause of Obesity
Obesity happens when there is an imbalance between consumed calories from foods and calories expended of the body. It can be caused and triggered by several factors, including:
1. Individual habits/behaviors
The most basic cause of obesity is unhealthy behaviors, including imbalance diet patterns and lacks of physical activities. To have a normal or healthy weight, you should have healthy diet patterns and regular physical activities. A healthy diet pattern should able to provide the number of nutrients that your body needed. Meanwhile, regular physical activities will help to burn and maintain the number of calories consumed not to be stored as fats. However, obese don’t follow those recommendations. They consume energy-dense foods and beverages that high in fat, also almost don’t take any exercises.
2. Community or environment
Community environment also plays a big role in driving unhealthy individual behaviors. For example, the increasing production of junk foods and instant foods let people to neglect healthy intake. The changing modes of faster transportation such as cars and motorbikes or the lack of sidewalks or bike trails make people take less walk or bike to go to nearby places such as store or work. Or urban lifestyle and the form of works today that mostly allow people to work by sitting in front of computer for hours also lead to unhealthy lifestyle. These kinds of environment or community can influence the decisions of people and their closest about healthy lifestyle.
Although don’t significantly responsible cause obesity but genes do play role. Genes in human body will give instructions to respond the changes in surrounding environment. Some studies learned about several genes that potentially contribute to overweight as well as obesity that influence the increasing hunger and food intake. Monogenic obesity or a specific variant of single gene that inherited obesity within a family is identified as the cause. However, the interactions between multiple genes and environmental factors still need further studies.
4. Diseases and drugs
There are some illnesses that influencing people to gain weight and obesity including Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Taking drugs including steroids and some type of antidepressants also cause people to gain weight.
Health Consequences Linked to Obesity
Compared to people with normal or healthy weight, people in obesity are prone from less serious until non-communicable disease. People who are obese particularly with childhood obesity may experience difficulty in breathing, increased risk of fractures, early cardiovascular disease, hypertension, until psychological effects. They also have higher chance of severe obesity, disability adulthood, until premature death.
Other serious health problems that significantly increased associated with obesity is cardiovascular disease which mainly is heart disease and stroke has been the leading cause of death in 2012. Then, they also have higher risks of diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders particularly osteoarthritis, and some cancers such as breast, colon, and endometrial.
How to Fight and Prevent Obesity
Overweight as well as obesity is preventable and curable. So, the first fundamental thing to do is creating a supportive environment to help changing their harmful daily habits of obese. A supportive environment will help obese change their choices, make healthier foods, and start physical activities then prevent it to come again. Although it isn’t easy and takes a long-term efforts but free from overweight as well as obesity can turn someone’s life to be better than not.
Following the strategies to prevent obesity from U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are some steps to do including:
1. Assessing current weight and healthy weight
Measuring two screening tools, BMI and waist circumference, are used to estimate the status of weight and potential disease risk that linked to. BMI is the main indicator to decide whether she/he is overweight or not. Meanwhile, waist line is an indicator to estimate the potential health risks. If people have an excessive waist fat, they may at higher risks to develop obesity-related conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, stroke, or heart disease.
2. Healthy Diet
According to U.S Choose MyPlate, a variety of foods and beverages to meet your calories and nutrients intake to build healthy dietary patterns should include:
– whole fruits include fresh, frozen, or dried fruits
– vegetables include dark-green, red, orange, starchy, and other vegetables, also beans and peas
– grains include whole and refined grains
– protein foods include meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, seeds, nuts, peas and soy products
– dairy products include milk, yogurt, cheese and others that has low-fat or free-fat
– oils include essential oils or natural part of foods
3. Regular Exercises
Regular physical activities work like “magic potion.” Not only improves overall health, but also an important treatment for any illness and reduced the risk for many chronic diseases. Adjusting regular exercises to your daily schedule may be hard to do particularly those with overweight as well as obesity. According to Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, the recommended moderate intensity of activity for adults is at least 150 minutes or high intense activity for 75 minutes followed by 2 days-strength training per week.
For obese, start-up exercises shouldn’t be started with high intense physical activities. They can start with low-intense exercise such as brisk walking or at-home exercises for about 10-30 minutes a day until their body can adjust to it.
4. The Role of Family
Not only start from individual, but the role of family or closest people is also important. A family should be able to create a healthy environment to support people with overweight and obese to follow their diet plan. Family also needs to give psychological support during the diet because it may hard to be done alone.
We can say that overweight as well as obesity has been turned into a worldwide epidemic that needs to be fight and prevent as soon as possible. It’s a complex problem that there is no simple solution and need multiple approaches. But, it doesn’t mean that overweight as well as obesity can’t be solved. Not only started from individual, closest people, healthcare professionals, until local and state organizations need to work together to create a healthy lifestyle environment since childhood.