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Obesity. A global problem? A worldwide health issue.

Updated on November 2, 2014

The problems surrounding obesity

Seldom a day goes by without us being confronted with news and opinions about obesity.

Many researchers see the global rise in obesity as one of the significant problems humanity may face now and in the future.

Obesity is often associated with health issues, and many of us (including me) have either tried to avoid gaining those extra kilos or even harder yet, getting rid of them.
There is talk about an epidemic of obesity in developed countries.

The World Health Organisation defines obesity as a body mass above 30 kg/m2.
A more practical definition is that obesity is an accumulation of excess body fat that has a significant adverse effect on health.

In an OECD publication "Obesity Update 2012” they conclude:

  • In over half of OECD countries, at least one out of two people is now obese or overweight. Rates are expected to rise further, and in some countries 2/3 of the people will be obese within one decennium.
  • Expenditures for health are 25% higher with an obese person compared to a person of normal weight in any given period. Obesity is responsible for nearly 5 percent of total health expenditures in nearly all OECD countries (5-10 % in the USAUnited States).
  • Obese people make up to 18% less than non-obese men and woman.
  • A broad prevention policy would avoid, every year, 155.000 losses from chronic illnesses in Japan, 70.000 in England, 75.000 in Italy, 40.000 in Canada, and 55.000 in Mexico.
  • Obesity does not make a distinction between sexes
  • Even in young children obesity is common. For instance, nearly 25% of boys and girls in the UK are now labeled as overweight or obese.


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A worldwide health issues | Source

Obesity & The WHO (World Health Organization)

Overweight and obesity are described by the WHO as excessive or unusual fat buildup that presents a hazard to health.

Formerly considered a predicament only in high income nations, overweight and obesity are presently, according to the World Health Organization, dramatically rising in low- and middle-income countries, especially in urban environments.

The WHO has made several other interesting observations regarding Obesity

  • In 2008 over 1.4 billion adults were overweight, and more than 500 million obese.
  • At minimum 2.8 million people die each year as a consequence of being obese or overweight.
  • Worldwide, over 40 million preschool (also nursery school outside the USA) children were overweight in 2008
  • Obesity in children is one of the most pressing public health tests of the 21st century.
  • Obesity and overweight are associated to more deaths globally than underweight
  • Worldwide, 23% of coronary artery disease condition and 7–41% of specific cancers can be attributed to obesity and overweight.
  • An increased intake of highly calorific meals, without a similar increase in physical action, leads to a harmful increase in weight. Decreased levels of physical exercise will furthermore result in a lack of energy balance and drive to weight gain
  • Supportive communities are key in shaping people’s decisions and preventing obesity
  • Eating a healthy menu can help stop obesity occurring
    It is possible for people to:
    1) keep a weight that is healthy
    2) limit total fat consumption and shift the intake away from unhealthy saturated fats to unsaturated fats
    3) raise consumption of vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts and whole grains
    4) curb the consumption of salt and sugar.

Everybody should engage in sufficient levels of physical activity throughout in all phases of their lives.
A minimum 30 minutes of routine, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days will reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, breast cancer and colon cancer.

Your BMI

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Obesity and BMI

A medical condition is called obesity when excess body fat has grown to the degree that it may have an unfavorable effect on health.

Obesity is defined by BMI (body mass index) and further calculated in terms distribution of fat via the waist–hip proportion and cardiovascular risk factors.

Both the percentage of body fat and total body fat are related to BMI.

A worldwide health issues

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A worldwide health issues | Source

Waistline and Obesity

BMI is frequently used as a sign of obesity. However someone's waistline size can be a useful indicator of a potential health risk and obesity.

Swedish researchers published a study in the British Medical Journal suggesting that people with a waistline of 100 centimeters (39.3 inches) or more face a bigger risk of being diagnosed with insulin resistance. People who experience insulin resistance are also more likely to develop heart disease and diabetes.


Shocking Facts...

Now we'll take a closer look at the graph above.
The data in this image shows the prevalence (the total number of cases of a disease in the given statistical population at a given time) of obesity in several developed countries. The USA lead the way with countries like Mexico, Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom not far behind. At present, around a quarter of these countries population is overweight.
Unfortunately, the obesity rates are rising in countries like Korea and Japan that are currently quite low.

The increase in overweight and obesity, as mentioned before, is a major public health concern.

So to put it in other words being obese matters because it increases your chances of dying.

Obesity is the consequence of a mismatch between calorie consumption and energy expenditure, of the sort that intake surpasses expenditure, resulting in net buildup of energy reserves in the body.

The fat stored in our bodies increases the size and shape of our bodies. In addition to these obvious outward changes, many other less noticeable changes occur simultaneously inside our bodies. Often these only become apparent when they manifest as a disease.
Obesity is associated with cardiovascular diseases and some forms of cancer. Diabetes, specifically type 2 diabetes, is a common and serious consequence of obesity and can result in loss of vision and loss of limbs.

Obesity. A global problem!

Obesity is becoming a global problem (some might argue it is already) because worldwide a large number of people are going to suffer or are already suffering from its negative health implications. These implications can even lead to early death.

Without doubt the increased percentage of overweight and obese people in most developed and in many developing countries around the world with all the concomitant health problems and cost implications, is a matter of great concern. The World Health Organisation reports in "Obesity and Overweight" Fact sheet N°311,Updated March 2013, that worldwide, obesity has doubled since 1980. In particular, the increase in child obesity is very disturbing.

It is obvious that say this leads to more suffering for those directly involved and to a higher health care bill.

Luckily, more and more people now come to realize that obesity has become the worldwide health problem, and it's time that action should be taken to prevent obesity getting worse and worse.

Very interesting topics of study involve diving deeper into the causes of obesity and to prevention/cure for obesity. Preventing obesity could prove beneficial to the economy as well.

What Causes Obesity

The bottom line is that we gain weight because we eat more calories than we use.

The most abundant source of calories is food but sugary carbonated drinks and alcohol add up too.

The question why we eat more calories than we use is a difficult question to answer.

The intake of "fast" food, as the next video hints too, might also be one of the causes.

Fast Foods and Fat Profits


Metabolic precursors and effects of obesity in children: a ... (n.d.). Retrieved from

Obesity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Obesity statistics - Countries Compared - NationMaster. (n.d.). Retrieved from

OECD iLibrary: Statistics / OECD Factbook / 2013 / Overweight ... (n.d.). Retrieved from

Overweight: a widespread health problem - Health - Pharmacies ... (n.d.). Retrieved from

WHO | Obesity - World Health Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from

WHO | 10 facts on obesity - World Health Organization. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Would taxes on unhealthy food help reverse the obesity ... (n.d.). Retrieved from

Weight Loss Tips

Many people struggle with their weight. The fact is that with commitment, you can really lose weight. These tips can help you start.

Skipping meals is counterproductive to any weight loss program. When you skip meals, you create a great deal of hunger that may cause you to make poor food choices when you eat again. While the practice may seem like a good idea, intentionally skipping regular mealtimes is counterproductive to healthy weight loss.

Making sure you are dining with the right person at a restaurant can help you lose weight. Studies have recently shown that women and men eat more when they are in a woman's presence, and they eat less when in a man's presence. While the reasons are unexplained, but you should be aware that a night out with girls will probably find you eating more food and having a lack of self control.

Don't get too hard on yourself when you slip up. No one is perfect, and slipping is fine once in a while. When unplanned treats end up on your plate, then plan to work out extra hard so it all balances out. If you're short on time and can't exercise, do not beat yourself up mentally about it. Dwelling on negativity takes your mind off your goal. Always keep things positive and moving forward.

Try eating your largest meal at lunch-time instead of later in the day. Take your normal meal like a sandwich or quick salad and have that be your evening meal. It will be easier to burn off the calories of the larger meal, as most of us are more physically active during the day.

Double the amount of meals you eat from three to six daily, and monitor your portion sizes and consider it snacking with the exception of breakfast and dinner. This will stop constant hunger and help you avoid eating too much. This will in turn let you consume less calories a day.

Remember to have an exercise program if you're trying to shed weight. Get a gym membership if you can spare the time and money for it. There are lots of alternatives like Pilates, jogging, Tai Chi or walking. Talk to your doctor before you begin any exercise program, especially if you have health issues. Lots of exercises are easily performed in the comfort of your own home.

It's possible to drop weight with the tips provided. However, you have to have a plan and stick to it. Stay dedicated to a program and you will be successful.


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    • profile image

      Paula 3 years ago

      Interesting! I can see the problem. But the solution is quite a different matter.

    • raymondphilippe profile image

      Raymond Philippe 3 years ago from The Netherlands

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Cool!

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Very good information! I get frustrated a lot because many people walk around clueless when the answers are right in front of them: the food choices they make. Unfortunately, many are still naïve about what is in our foods and what is stocked on the store shelves. Although consuming many calories is a problem, it is also the "type" of food as well. Years ago, in many parts of Asia, there was no obesity problem; however, they are slowly starting to adopt the "western" diet, which consists of, well, you know it, fast foods, heavy animal products, highly processed and fake foods, and fried, greasy foods. The processed foods that sit on our shelves contribute to the obesity problem as well since those chemicals are known to be stored in our fat cells. Sugar is also an issue. The list goes on and on. But the bottom line is: we are responsible for what we eat and being knowledgeable. It is not the government or the food industry. Both are ignorant and uncaring about our health. It is up to us to be in control of what goes in our grocery carts and into our mouths.