OK. Lets start with some key facts on obesity.
- Worldwide obesity has almost doubled since 1980.
- In 2008, more than 1.8 billion adults, aged 20 and over, were overweight. Of these 200 million men and 300 million women were obese.
- 65% of the worlds population live in countries where obesity causes more death than starvation or disease.
- More than 40 million children worldwide under the age of 5 are obese.
- Around 12 – 15% of the worlds population are obese with 8 – 10% being morbidly obese.
- Obesity is not only preventable but curable.
The health implications associated with being obese are numerous and doesn’t just end with being a cosmetic issue. It is a massive health problem. A person who is 40% overweight has more than double the chances of a premature death than someone considered to be within a healthy weight range. Obesity can be linked to many serious health issues such as -
- Heart disease and stroke
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease and gallstones
- Sleep apnoea and asthma
Doctors agree that the more overweight the person is the more likely he or she is to experience chronic health problems. A person is considered obese if he or she weighs more than 20% heavier than their healthy BMI weight. Those at greatest risk of obesity related health issues are -
- People with close relatives who have suffered from heart disease or diabetes.
- People with pre existing medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol or elevated blood sugar levels.
- People who are “apple” shaped as the majority of their weight is around their mid section and this places a much greater strain on their vital organs than a person who is “pear” shaped as they carry their weight lower in their hips and buttocks.
- Obesity is directly linked to heart disease and stroke and is the number one killer in the western civilisation. Obese people are more likely to have higher blood pressure, a major cause of heart disease and stroke, than a person considered to be a healthy weight. High levels of cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease.
- Type 2 diabetes is most often caused by excessive weight problems and reduces your bodies ability to control blood sugar. It is a major cause of early death, heart disease, stroke and blindness. Obese people are far more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than a person considered within a healthy weight range.
- Several types of cancer are attributed to obesity including colon, breast, endometrium, kidney and oesophagus. Some others but less common include gallbladder, ovaries and pancreas.
- Obesity affects osteoarthritis and gout. Osteoarthritis most commonly affects the knee, hip or back. Carrying excess weight puts extreme pressure on the joints and wears away the cartilage that is your bodies natural way of protecting them. Gout is a disease that affects the joints that is caused by excess levels of a substance called uric acid in the blood. This acid can form crystals that deposit in the joints.
- Sleep apnoea is a serious breathing condition associated with obesity that causes people to snore heavily and stop breathing for short periods of time. It also increases daytime drowsiness and lack of energy.
So what is the best form of attack? The simple and logical answer is of course a change in lifestyle both in diet and movement. The good news is that any weight loss at all will have people start noticing improvements in their health almost immediately. A weight drop as little as 5 or 10 kilos will be enough to greatly reduce the risks of all problems associated with obesity as well as improve your energy and general health and well being.