Today marks World Obesity Day, and with the World Obesity Foundation predicting that by 2035, 51% of the world’s population will be overweight or obese if current patterns aren’t changed, the health of the world is at a massive risk. By 2025, more than 4 billion people are expected to have a body mass index above 25. Additionally, one in four people are expected to be obese, compared to one in seven today.
So today, we give you a bit of information to educate you on what obesity is. We also discuss how it poses a huge health risk for us, and why it’s something we should all be taking seriously.
What is Obesity?
This condition is defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that poses a health risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, while a BMI over 30 is considered obese. The issue has grown to epidemic proportions, with an estimated 300, 000 deaths per year, showing just how deadly it is.
What Causes It?
The main cause of obesity is when one consumes more calories than they burn in daily activity and exercise on a long-term basis. Over time, these calories add up, ultimately leading to weight gain. While this is the main cause, obesity isn’t always about calorie consumption or a sedentary lifestyle. The most common causes that could affect any of us include:
- Genetics: This can determine how your body is able to turn food into energy, and how fat is stored.
- Lack of sleep: Not getting enough sleep can lead to hormonal changes, leaving you hungrier and craving certain high-calorie foods, which ultimately leads to increased weight gain.
Health Conditions Which Are Risk Factors
Certain health conditions can also lead to severe weight gain, potentially speeding up the onset of obesity. These include:
- Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS): A condition that causes an imbalance of female reproductive hormones. Women who are genetically predisposed to developing PCOS see the biochemical and clinical manifestations of weight gain and obesity.
- Cushing Syndrome: A condition caused by high cortisol levels (the stress hormone) in your system. Chronic hypercortisolism has been shown to start a redistribution of body fat deposition, which results in increased abdominal adiposity.
- Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid): A condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough of certain important hormones. It is associated with a slow metabolic rate, indicating a correlation with a higher BMI, and increased prevalence of obesity.
What Makes It So Dangerous?
The reason obesity is so dangerous is that it does more than simply cause weight gain. From putting strain on your bones and internal organs, it is also responsible for increased inflammation in the body, which is a risk factor for cancer. It has been linked to a wide range of health complications, including:
- Heart Disease
- Gallbladder Disease
- Sleep Apnea
- Cancer (breast, endometrial, and colon)
- Fatty Liver Disease
Weight loss surgery is typically opted for when one is affected by obesity. Known as bariatric surgery, this surgery either limits how much food you can comfortably consume or prevents your body from absorbing food and calories. The main types of weight loss surgery include:
- Gastric Bypass Surgery: Perhaps the most popular option, your surgeon creates a small pouch at the top of your stomach that connects to your small intestine. This enables food and liquids to go through the pouch and into the intestine, therefore bypassing most of the stomach.
- Laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAGB): This surgery separates your stomach into two different pouches. The small stomach pouch allows you to feel full even after eating less food.
- Gastric Sleeve Surgery: This procedure removes part of your stomach, leaving behind a narrow “sleeve”. Reducing your stomach helps restrict calorie intake and hunger signals.
How Do We Prevent It?
The dramatic increase in obesity has led to states, organizations, and governments placing heavy emphasis on the importance of living healthy lives. Ensuring that we have a balanced diet, with enough exercise is extremely crucial to various aspects of our health, and has proven to help prevent the onset of obesity. We need to act now because implementing healthy habits will greatly aid our health and longevity.
Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation, said:
“This year’s Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future.”
MAIN IMAGE CREDIT: kurhan/shutterstock
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