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Obesity Awareness

Worldwide, the prevalence of obesity has more than trebled in the last 25 years, a trend that is not slowing down. Experts in the field of obesity now state that obesity is responsible, and causes more ill health and disease related deaths than does smoking. Each year obesity related diseases are the cause of at least 2.8 million deaths worldwide, and is the fifth leading risk for global deaths.

The serious health risks that are associated with being overweight or obese are: coronary heart disease; cancer; stroke; diabetes; kidney failure; high blood pressure; and other major, life-altering conditions. Also to be considered are the associated psychological consequences that can come with obesity, such as: low self-esteem; anxiety; stress; clinical depression and a higher risk of suicide – often as a result of bullying and prejudice from peers.

The last worldwide study done by the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed that more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older were overweight, and of these adults over 600 million adults were classed as obese. This means that overall 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) are now considered obese.

Obesity is not exclusively seen in adults however, with currently around 20% of children and adolescents being overweight, and 14% of children considered obese. Like adulthood obesity, childhood obesity is also strongly associated with many life-altering risk factors such as: Type 2 Diabetes; cardiovascular diseases; orthopaedic problems; mental disorders and lower self-esteem.

The most common method of measuring obesity is through the BMI scale. BMI, or Body Mass Index, is a measure of body fat based on weight and height, which applies to both men and women. If you have a BMI of 30 to 39.9 you are under the category of obese, and if you have a BMI of over 40 you are defined as being severely obese. A healthy BMI is from 18.5 to 24.9. Though the BMI scale is a powerful tool in diagnosing obesity, it is not always definitive as it does not take into account a person’s muscle mass. An additional way to measure of excess body fat is to measure a person’s waist circumference. Generally a man with a waist circumference of 94cm (or 37in), or a woman with a waist circumference of 80cm (or 31.5in), or greater is considered to be at a much higher risk of developing obesity-related health problems.

Obesity or being overweight, as well as their related conditions are diseases, are fortunately largely preventable. Ensuring a person has both a supportive environment and community is fundamental in shaping ones choices, making the choice of consuming healthier foods on a daily basis and partaking in regular physical activity can help prevent a person becoming overweight or obese.