Obesity goes past having to squeeze into a couple of clothes that used to fit at some point, or worrying about what the scale says after breaking a diet regimen.
This medical issue is a complex disorder that involves an excessive amount of body fat, and the consequences run deep, past surface-level.
To wholly comprehend this, let’s start off by understanding BMI (Body Mass Index) and how it relates to Obesity.
BMI & Obesity — What To Know
There is an increase in Overweight and Obesity around the world, and Qilo believes this should be a cause of concern.
Although a BMI does not distinguish between excess fat and muscle or bone mass, it is still recognized as one of the widely used — globally recognized, easy to measure and inexpensive — means of measuring body size and indicating high body fat.
A BMI measurement is a combination of a person’s weight and height. It is also associated with “excessive morbidity and excess mortality”, according to a 2019 research journal.
For adults, a BMI of over 30 can be classified as Obesity (higher than Overweight, which is a BMI between 25 – 30), and this comes with harmful consequences for the health.
It is advisable to carry out a BMI examination every year to check against any health issues, as well as to commence management and treatment appropriately (and on time) if need be.
So, what is Obesity? Simply put, Obesity is an excessive, abnormal, and unhealthy accumulation of body fat.
What Causes Obesity?
While there are generic, hormonal, metabolic as well as behavioural factors that influence a person’s weight, obesity is largely attributed to overeating/frequency of eating, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity.
Physical Health Implications of Overweight and Obesity
Compared to people with a healthy weight, people with obesity have an increased risk of suffering from serious health conditions.
According to a 2015 medical science journal, obesity is “a major public health problem which results in decreased life expectancy, especially in younger age groups.”
High blood pressure, stroke, respiratory issues, high cholesterol, diabetes, gall-bladder diseases, liver diseases, sleep apnea and varying forms of cancer are some of the health challenges that can develop. The life expectancy of obese individuals is on average shorter by two years when compared to individuals with normal weight.
Mental Health Implications of Overweight and Obesity
Researchers have put together studies that clearly show the correlation between obesity and the quality of life – and this includes mental wellness. According to Magallares & Pais-Ribeiro, 2014, there is a “bidirectional relationship between obesity and mental health”. Individuals who suffer from obesity reportedly deal with more psychological distress, just as people with low levels of well-being are at the highest risk of developing weight problems.
Obesity and psychiatric illnesses have been closely linked to each other, and adults with excess weight have an increased risk (over 55% more) of developing depression at some point in their lifetime. Other mental health issues include anxiety, behavioural problems, mood disorder, interpersonal communication problems, eating disorders, poor self-image and ultimately, a lower self-esteem.
Other studies have shown that individuals who suffer from obesity often ‘stand out’ or are negatively secluded, and have to deal with victimisation and stigmatisation, especially in cases of adolescents.
Financial Implications of Overweight and Obesity
Although individuals who suffer from obesity bear a huge portion of the financial cost of this health problem,
there are implications that put a strain on the healthcare system as a whole, as well as on the economy, and these cannot be ignored.
Treating obesity and obesity-related conditions cost billions of dollars yearly, and excluding the excessive cost of health-care expenditure, an “overweight or obese status reduces productivity and increases absenteeism, disability rates, and the risk of earlier retirement”, according to a 2020 scientific study.
For individuals with health conditions as a result of obesity, this can have negative implications on economic growth as productivity is hampered and work days might be lowered or put on hold.
Treatment, Management and Prevention Of Obesity
A comprehensive lifestyle modification and weight management plan is where to begin if you’re intentional about treating, managing or preventing obesity. A combination of dietary changes as well as behavioural changes must be implemented, and these include;
- Change in diet: Obesity is easily associated with eating behaviors and food choices, as an excessive intake of food (especially unhealthy food) will ultimately lead to the storage of fat that the body does not put to use. Switching to healthier eating patterns that encourage the reduction of energy (food) intake, and consciously choosing nutrient-dense meals is a good approach to take. A low-fat, low-sugar and low-carbohydrate diet is effective for weight loss, and sticking to a high-protein diet aids weight management/sustains weight-loss efforts.
- Exercise/Physical activities: Exercising is an activity that people turn to when trying to lose weight, and it is definitely effective if done alongside a diet plan. Exercise can be any form of physical activity that exerts the body and increases the heart rate, so this is not restricted to gyms and/or exercise equipment. Some physical activities that can serve as exercise include jogging or running, swimming, dancing, yoga etc. Even the ‘little’ things like taking walks more often (30 minutes, 3-4 times a week), or using the stairs rather than an elevator are beneficial for weight loss.
In extreme cases, hormonal treatment, the prescription of weight loss medications (for the reduction of appetite and increase in fat-burning) and/or surgery are measures that can also be taken. These are usually recommended/prescribed by a doctor/a registered dietician.
Obesity affects a third of the world’s population today and morbid obesity is on the increase, even in children. Healthcare workers continue to find this worrying, as the health implications of this greatly affects various sections of society, just as it affects individuals who suffer from this disease.
Providing key facts and information as it relates to Obesity, as well as informing people on its health consequences (short-term and in the long run) to aid in the management, treatment and prevention of this problem can be effective in curbing obesity and obesity-related illnesses.