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Obesity; A matter of great concern.

Introduction:


Over 70 million adults in the U.S. are obese (35 million men and 35 million women). 99 million people are overweight (45 million women and 54 million men). NHANES 2016 statistics showed that about 39.6% of American adults were obese. Men had an age-adjusted rate of 37.9%, and women had an age-adjusted rate of 41.1%.

Cause

According to the World Health Organization and the National Center for Health Statistics, overweight and obesity are defined as irregular or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health problems. Obesity is measured by the body mass index (BMI), which is a simple index that is commonly used to classify overweight and obesity in adults.

For adult obesity rates, the World Health Organization classifies overweight and obesity as having a BMI greater than or equal to 25, and obesity as having a BMI greater than or equal to 30.

The body mass index provides the most useful measure of overweight and obesity, as it is the same for both sexes and all ages of adults. However, keep in mind that it should be considered a rough guide only because it may not correspond to the same degree of fat in different individuals since it measures excess weight rather than excess fat.

naked 0bedimonal of a man taking fast food

Obesity Rate in America:

America’s obesity rate has been continuously rising over time, and recent data indicates a concerning trend. In the United States, adult obesity prevalence was estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be 42.4% in 2020. This indicates how urgently this health crisis needs to be addressed, as it is a significant increase over earlier decades.

What Causes Obesity in America?

America’s obesity rates are on the rise for several reasons. Sedentary behavior, characterized as spending more time in front of screens and less time exercising, is one significant contributing factor. Sugary beverages contribute to an excess intake of calories.

America Ranked in Obesity Worldwide:

The United States consistently ranks high in global obesity charts. With the United States ranking as the 12th fattest country in the world according to the World Population Review, significant public health initiatives are required to address this urgent issue. Individuals’ health, the healthcare system, and the economy are all adversely affected by the high prevalence of obesity.

Obesity Statistics Worldwide:

While the United States faces a significant obesity challenge, it is crucial to recognize that this issue is not confined to any one country. Globally, obesity rates have tripled since 1975, with the World Health Organization (WHO) estimating that more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight in 2016 and over 650 million were obese. This emphasizes the need for a concerted effort on a global scale to address the multifaceted causes of obesity and implement effective prevention and treatment strategies.

The Most Obese States in America:

Within the United States, obesity rates vary among states. According to recent data, West Virginia has the highest adult obesity rate, with nearly 38.1% of its population classified as obese. Regional disparities highlight the need for tailored national and state interventions to combat obesity effectively.

Obesity Statistics Worldwide:

The World Obesity Federation’s World Obesity Atlas 2023 expects 51% of the global population to be overweight and 25% obese by 2035. Childhood obesity will more than double from 2020 levels—by 100% in boys to 208 million and 125% in girls to 175 million. Global obesity rates have long posed health problems due to their associated consequences. Like all chronic diseases, the root causes of excess weight run much deeper. They can be genetic, sociocultural, psychological, economic, and even environmental. According to the World Obesity Federation (2019), the roots of overweight and obesity come from.

Health risks are associated with overweight and obesity.

Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is the condition most strongly influenced by overweight. Being overweight or obese is believed to account for 80–85% of the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, since recent research has shown that overweight people are more likely to develop this disease than those with a BMI of 22 or less. Weight gain during adulthood also increases diabetes risk, even among people within a healthy BMI range.

Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease

Being overweight is directly associated with heart disease, strokes, and cardiovascular risk factors. As BMI grows, so do blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and inflammation. They increase the risk of cardiovascular complications such as a heart attack or a stroke.

some bakery food on the table and a young boy lying on sofa

Obesity and Cancer

Overweight is directly associated with types of cancer in men and women. Given that cancer is not a single disease but a collection of individual diseases, the association between obesity and cancer is not quite as clear. In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research concluded after an extensive investigation that there was evidence of an association between obesity and cancer of the esophagus, pancreas, colon and rectum, breast, endometrium, kidney, and gallbladder.

Obesity and COVID-19

By early 2021, several studies had been published confirming an increased need for medical services for people living with obesity who developed COVID-19. A higher body mass index (BMI) has been associated with an increased risk of hospitalization, admission to intensive or critical care, and the need for mechanically assisted ventilation. It also raises the risk of dying from the disease.

Can overweight and obesity be reduced?

Overweight and obesity, as well as their related diseases, are largely preventable. An effort and support from our environment and communities are fundamental to helping shape people’s choices by making accessible, available, and affordable alternatives to healthier food and regular physical activity to prevent overweight. Once provided with choices, individuals can pursue healthier lifestyles through simple activities and decisions.

  • Increase consumption of healthier and more balanced foods (fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts).
  • Limit their intake of fats and sugars.
  • Engage in daily or regular physical activity.

Individual actions can only have their full effect when people are given access to a healthy lifestyle. Following the recommendations above is crucial at a societal level; giving them options like healthier dietary choices or more spaces for regular physical activity can have a great impact on reducing and preventing overweight.

Recommendations

Simple lifestyle adjustments in the areas of nutrition, exercise, and stress reduction can result in long-term health. Improving health doesn’t require costly gym memberships or expensive foods; simple changes can enhance well-being effectively. Keep it simple. First, focus on one unhealthy habit and turn it into a healthy, positive one. If you always have a sugary drink at lunchtime, swap this for water several times a week. On public transport, get off a stop earlier and walk home. These easy changes help the mind understand that not all change needs to be difficult. Once you start, it’s easier to add other changes too.

Weight Chart

Weight charts for average individuals offer healthy weight ranges based on factors like height, age, and gender. Individual differences, body composition, and health factors can influence what constitutes a healthy weight. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a commonly used tool to assess weight and height.

Here is a general BMI chart for adults:

BMIWeight Status
Below 18.5Underweight
18.5 – 24.9Normal weight
25.0 – 29.9Overweight
30.0 and aboveObesity

Keep in mind that BMI has limitations, as it doesn’t distinguish between muscle and fat, and it may not be accurate for individuals with high muscle mass. For a more comprehensive assessment of health, it’s advisable to consider other factors such as body composition, waist circumference, and overall well-being.

Consulting a healthcare professional offers personalized advice tailored to your health goals and circumstances.

A man measuring his waist with measure tap

Conclusion

Whether your outlook on life is positive or negative, it has an impact on your health. A “glass half empty” personality tends to harbor negative thoughts, resulting in a pessimistic outlook on life. Writing a daily gratitude list changes perspective from negative to positive. Add five new items to your gratitude list each day, and feel the optimism that arises. Optimism yields health benefits like lower distress and depression rates, improved heart health, and enhanced coping skills. Some scientists believe these health benefits come from the reduction of stress on the body.