Obesity, the excess accumulation of body fat, is fast emerging as a health epidemic around the world.
Why this hike in numbers? Experts say that today’s food habits are the culprits. People are eating fewer vegetables, fruits, nuts and whole grains, and instead filling their plates with red meat, refined grains, unhealthy fats and sugary drinks. Some believe that obesity has a genetic basis and is more common in African American and Mexican American women. Society also plays an important role in the increase in obesity among both children and adults. Some of the triggers include:
- Easy availability and vast variety of foods at affordable rates
- Physically inactive jobs
- Spending more time in front of computers, television and smart phones while eating
- Increasing stress and workplace pressure
- Fast-paced lifestyle that demands fast food that is usually calorie-rich and nutrition-poor
Obesity makes it difficult to move, use public transport and accomplish simple day-to-day activities. Obese people often tire easily and experience feelings of low self-esteem. Apart from this, extra body fat poses a big risk to developing conditions such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes. Obese individuals have a 50 to 100% increased risk of death as compared to normal weight individuals.
Treatment is centred on balancing the intake of energy (in the form of food) and the expenditure of this energy (in the form of activity). Obesity can be combated by:
Lifestyle modifications :
- Dietary changes: including healthy food rich in nutrients and avoiding high-calorie, highly processed junk food
- Being physically active: breaking free from a sedentary lifestyle and following a regular exercise regime
- Behavioural changes: reducing eating triggers such as watching TV, listening to music or chatting with friends while eating, and minimizing stress
- Weight-loss medications: Medication or appetite suppressants may be prescribed by your doctor when lifestyle modifications do not help promote weight loss.
- Weight-loss surgery: Bariatric surgery is considered in those with extreme obesity and who have not been able to lose excess body fat through diet, exercise or medication.
Even after medical intervention, maintaining a healthy weight requires a lifetime’s dedication to eating wholesome food and being active. The obesity epidemic can be reversed through prevention. Making small lifestyle changes, working with and educating obese children and preventing further weight gain can help in promoting a healthier population.