health issue of obesity is gaining attention from diverse groups in society nowadays. For some years now, the many cases of health problems resulting from obesity have been the focus of research and studies of many scientists from different countries. Today, due to the increasing percentage of obese people in many nations, obesity research is among the major programs considered by health service groups and governments.
Obesity is a health problem that refers to excess fats in the body resulting to being overweight. Usually, obesity is caused by improper diet. Some critical illnesses that toll life are associated with obesity. Studies have shown that being obese causes an individual to lose a few years from his life expectancy.
Currently, countless of health articles, news, and journals regarding obesity are disseminated to bring attention to the public about its consequences. Because of this, questions have been raised if such exposure of issues on obesity is appropriate.
Distribution of information on obesity is essential for the benefit of everyone's health. Perhaps, this is what the publications intend. Nonetheless, for whatever reasons it may be, it is important to know and be aware of health matters and issues. Questions such as "What is obesity?," "What causes obesity?," "What are the consequences brought by obesity?," and many others, are important factors in bringing awareness in us.
Governments have regarded the issues of obesity by providing policies and strategies, and by supporting conventions of various health services. In fact, governments are allotting budget, aside from budgets to other health cases, for the cause of delivering solutions to health problems concerning obesity.
Public Health and Obesity
The population of people who are at risk of becoming obese increases yearly. From statistics carried out on nations such as the United States and European nations, there is a growth of 5 to10 percentage of obese men and women. Alarmingly, obesity rate annually increases in adults and children alike.
Obesity is caused by a number of factors such as genes, environment, and psychological status of a person. Some illnesses and drugs, leading to uncontrollable eating habits and disorders, also cause obesity. This includes depression, neurological disorders, and intake of stimulants and steroids.
Genetic factor is the foremost cause that demands vital attention to prevent obesity. People with families who have history of obesity are in more possibility of becoming overweight due to inherited imbalanced genes. This type of genes is capable of absorbing more calories than burning the necessary amount of calories. Slow metabolism is generally related and identified with such disorder. To prevent the imbalances of calorie intake and release, and to overcome the influence of hereditary genes, it is important to consider a strict habit of taking preventive dietary measures.
Environment factor is another element that causes obesity. Sometimes obesity is visible within members of one family, not because of genetic factors but, because they share the same foods and lifestyles. One member's behavior of eating too much, or the energy of eating from time to time, can influence the behavior of another. Building the habit of moderation in eating and providing physical activities that help burn fats in the body are some of the techniques that can lead an individual to divert his lifestyle from the influences of his environment.
Obesity can also result from psychological factors. Some people tend to release their emotions, such as depression, boredom, stress, sadness, or even gladness, in eating.
In our culture of relating celebrations with eating, the growth of obesity is not impossible to increase every year. The rise of fast food chains providing instant and ready-to-eat meals that usually contain high fats and cholesterols contribute to the increase in number of people who develops obesity. This is due to the incorrect habit-formation of individuals in over-eating high-fat foods from easy-to-access fast food chains. Malcolm Simmonds, in his article The Growth of Obesity, indicates a Japanese professor's research regarding obesity and fast foods.
Japanese professor calls the trio of obesity, diabetes and heart disease the 'McDiseases', because fast food is seen as a cause of rising levels of disease.
The health of individuals affected and at risk of becoming obese is in threat of experiencing obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressures, and heart diseases. Accumulation of such diseases can become illnesses that run within families through genetic transfers. Hence, as years go by, the number of individuals with diverse diseases is also threatened to increase resulting to low public health. Malcolm Simmonds indicates the serious consequences of obesity in the United States and other nations.
The JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) reported that 300,000 Americans die annually from obesity related illnesses. These are mainly diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart and artery disease.
Certainly, diabetes is increasing rapidly alongside obesity. The number of diabetics has risen by 11% worldwide in the past 5 years. India has 32 million diabetics, China 22 million, USA has 15 million and the UK 1.4 million.
Obesity in Britain
According to the World Health Organization, obesity has been a health problem deteriorating the stability of public health globally. Among the most affected nations that deal with the increasing population of obese citizens is Britain.
Research and studies have shown that obesity in Britain has doubled for the past 2 decades. Currently, statistics indicate that 50% in Britain are classified as overweight and 1 in every 5 British is obese. Further, reports indicate that 17% of British men are obese, while there are 20% obese women. This increasing rate causes Britain to become the most overweight nation in Europe, replacing Germany, and almost reaching the obesity level of the United States that has the highest obesity population.
Medical researches have proven obesity as a factor of illnesses causing deaths. In 2001, the UK National Audit indicates that Britain's 30,000 annual deaths is caused by obesity-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases. Diabetics are estimated to grow to two million in 10 years, according to the British Diabetic Association (Josling, Leanne). On medical studies of illnesses caused by obesity, an article in BBC News entitled Warning Over UK Obesity Levels states that People clinically defined as obese are twice as likely to die from heart disease and obese women are 27 times more at risk of developing diabetes.
Obese men are 33% more likely to die from cancer and obese women are 50% more at risk of dying from breast cancer.
According to reports, obesity causes Britain to spend a budget of
2.5 billion annually. This excludes the indirect costs from sick leaves and obesity-related deaths.
Social status is one factor that causes obesity in Britain. From Nicole Martin's article Britain on Course to Match American Levels of Obesity, Dr. James Robertson, director of Health Value on Money at the National Audit Office, stated that "unhealthy eating habits and sedentary lifestyles" are among the root causes of obesity. Unhealthy eating habits include taking meals outside the home such as in fast foods. This has become popular as it offers instant and readily-available foods. Surveys show that such foods contain higher fats than home cooked and prepared foods. Sedentary lifestyles on the other hand include reduction in exercise habits. This is due to long hours at work wherein most of the time is spent sitting, making the body unable to calories. Also, lack of exercise is due to use of cars, lifts, escalators, and leisure activities such as watching television and computer games that doesn't require much consumption of calories in the body.
According to a survey conducted by Britain's Fattest Cities 2003, Glasgow and Edinburgh are the fattest cities in UK. Both cities have enough recreation facilities and the lifestyle of spending hours watching television is lower compared to London. However, their lack of eating healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables resulted to a high percentage of obese individuals.
Although there is no perfect method to measure obesity, some doctors in Britain are considering the size of an individual's waist line as a means to predict obesity. They believe that the body shape may provide more accurate result in measuring obesity.
Consequences of Obesity
The consequences of obesity cost a number of health problems, government funds, and life mortalities. Stressing on the consequences of obesity, in BBC News article entitled Warning Over UK Obesity Levels, Dr. Susan Jebb explains the need for concern on the strain obesity brings on an individual's health, as well as the costs it brings on National Health Service.
Aside from diabetes, cancer, and heart diseases, the article Understanding Adult Obesity states the following health problems related to obesity.
Gallbladder disease and gallstones.
Osteoarthritis, a disease in which the joints deteriorate. This is possibly the result of excess weight on the joints.
Gout, another disease affecting the joints.
Pulmonary (breathing) problems, including sleep apnea in which a person can stop breathing for a short time during sleep.
Reproductive problems in women, including menstrual irregularities and infertility.