Obesity – A Public Health Crisis

 

obesityObesity is a disease of excessive fat accumulation that presents serious risks to health. Currently in the United States, approximately 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 6 children are considered obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes obesity as a worldwide epidemic. Although there can be multiple factors involved, people gain weight when they eat more calories than they burn through daily activity. These excess calories are stored as fat. Other factors may include genetics, environment, medications, physical and mental health conditions, stress and poor sleep, diets rich in sweeteners and saturated fats, the availability of inexpensive processed foods and lack of exercise.

Obesity is a disease of excessive fat accumulation that presents serious risks to health. Currently in the United States, approximately 1 in 3 adults and 1 in 6 children are considered obese. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes obesity as a worldwide epidemic. Although there can be multiple factors involved, people gain weight when they eat more calories than they burn through daily activity. These excess calories are stored as fat. Other factors may include genetics, environment, medications, physical and mental health conditions, stress and poor sleep, diets rich in sweeteners and saturated fats, the availability of inexpensive processed foods and lack of exercise.

People who are obese, compared to those with a normal or healthy weight, have a higher risk of developing many serious health conditions, including:

  • Heart disease 
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Osteoarthritis, joint pain that often occurs in the knees
  • Sleep apnea and other breathing problems
  • Certain types of cancer such as breast, colon, kidney, liver, gallbladder, and endometrial
  • Mental health conditions such as depression, social isolation and anxiety
  • Pain and difficulty with daily functioning

 

The most common way to determine if a person is overweight or obese is to calculate body mass index (BMI). BMI is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight. An adult whose BMI is between 25 and 29.9 are generally considered overweight. An adult who has a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, meaning their body weight may be at least 25-30% more than their ideal body weight. Body shape is also important. People who carry most of their weight around the waist (apple shaped) have a greater risk of heart disease and diabetes than do people with larger hips and thighs (pear shaped). On average, having a waist measuring more than 35 inches for women or more than 40 inches for men puts a person at a higher risk for these conditions.

For a sample BMI calculator see: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/educational/lose_wt/BMI/bmi-m.htm

Prevention is crucial. For most people, once excess weight is gained, it isn’t easy to lose. Establishing lifetime patterns of eating healthfully and in moderate portions; engaging in regular physical activity; and changing behavior patterns and routines that are counterproductive, such as eating while watching television or playing videogames is essential. Limiting intake of high calorie sweeteners and fatty foods, substituting fruits and vegetables for processed foods, and drinking water instead of high calorie drinks are all helpful strategies for maintaining healthy weight goals.

For more information go to https://www.pchc.org/resources/hpaps to see a Health Promotion Activity Plan (HPAP) for obesity. 

For more information:

https://medlineplus.gov/obesity.html

https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/overweight-and-obesity