Obesity is abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that pose a risk to health. A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of his or her height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.
What causes obesity and overweight?
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed on one hand, and calories expended on the other hand. Global increases in overweight and obesity are attributable to a number of factors including:
- a global shift in diet towards increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugars but low in vitamins, minerals and other micronutrients; and
a trend towards decreased physical activity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.
What are common health consequences of overweight and obesity?
Overweight and obesity lead to serious health consequences. Risk increases progressively as BMI increases. Raised body mass index is a major risk factor for chronic diseases such as:
- Cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke) – already the world’s number one cause of death, killing 17 million people each year.
- Diabetes – which has rapidly become a global epidemic. WHO projects that diabetes deaths will increase by more than 50% worldwide in the next 10 years.
- Musculoskeletal disorders – especially osteoarthritis.
- Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon).
Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of premature death and disability in adulthood.
Many low- and middle-income countries are now facing a “double burden” of disease:
- While they continue to deal with the problems of infectious disease and under-nutrition, at the same time they are experiencing a rapid upsurge in chronic disease risk factors such as obesity and overweight, particularly in urban settings.
- It is not uncommon to find under-nutrition and obesity existing side-by-side within the same country, the same community and even within the same household.
This double burden is caused by inadequate pre-natal, infant and young child nutrition followed by exposure to high-fat, energy-dense, micronutrient-poor foods and lack of physical activity.
Being overweight or obese can have a serious impact on health. Carrying extra fat leads to serious health consequences such as cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and stroke), type 2 diabetes, musculoskeletal disorders like osteoarthritis, and some cancers (endometrial, breast and colon). These conditions cause premature death and substantial disability.
The good news is that overweight and obesity are largely preventable. The key to success is to achieve an energy balance between calories consumed on one hand, and calories used on the other hand.
To do this, people can limit energy consumption, increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and limit their intake of sugars. And to reduce the calories in to body,people can boost their levels of physical activity – to at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity activity on most days.
The credit of this article goes to WHO as all the information here is based from WHO website.
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