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Obesity is a modern world problem and it is a morbid disease that often requires medical treatment or life-saving surgery
Obesity is undoubtedly a global civilization disease – the newest data show that about 200 billion people worldwide are overweight and over 700 million are obese. What is even more frightening, the obesity statistics show that about 38 million children aged 0-5 were diagnosed as overweight or obese solely in 2019. Regarding the obesity definition, it is a disease that involves accumulation of the excessive fat to such an extent that it poses danger to general health and gives rise to other medical conditions and diseases. Some people may think that obesity is a cosmetic problem, but it is a morbid disease that often requires medical treatment or life-saving surgery.
The simplest way to determine whether a person is obese, and if yes, which of the types of obesity class he or she belongs to is calculating the BMI. There are many BMI calculators available on the Internet where it is enough to give the weight and height to get the immediate results.
The BMI ranges are as follows:
Of course, BMI is not the ideal device to determine obesity, however, people whose BMI exceeds 30 should double-check the fat percentage and visit the GP or dietician for the instructions on how to get back to a healthy weight.
Obesity can lead to other health problems including hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or sleep apnea
There have been many debates about obesity disease or disorder categorizing, however, the final worldwide statement (including the American Medical Association) is that obesity is a chronic disease belonging to the same category as heart disease, cancer, or joint disease.
Chronic disease is defined by the CDC (the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention) as a medical condition that prevails for over a year and requires continuing medical care and treatment. The problems with obesity are reflected in other health problems, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, or sleep apnea. What is even more frightening, obesity may lead to some types of cancer, strokes, or even death, so it should never be underestimated or tolerated. Obesity is a life-threatening disease, not a cosmetic problem, and should never be tolerated or accepted by society, not because of the additional kilograms, but because of its deadly character.
Childhood obesity concerns children and adolescents. It is a very serious condition determined when weight is higher than the healthy weight range suggested for children at a certain age and height. Childhood obesity statistics show that over 40 million children in the world aged 0-5 weigh too much – it is a starting point for future health problems, such as high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. Also, child obesity often deteriorates into adult obesity. Regarding the psychological aspect, overweight and obese children are proved to have low confidence, lack of self-esteem, eating disorders, and depression. Undoubtedly, children obesity may and should be tackled – just by teaching kids healthy eating habits and encouraging them to practice any sport they like. It is extremely important that adults set a good example of a healthy lifestyle for kids and adolescents, then it is much easier, even entertaining and joyful, for them to eat healthily and be active.
The tips for parents wanting to prevent obesity in their children include:
Obesity in the world has been spreading especially in the 21st century and nowadays it is very difficult to find a country where obesity does not pose a problem. The world obesity rates (showing the problem of obesity by country) are more than worrying.
Below, we present a table showing obesity rates by country for the selected states.
*The data are taken from CIA World Factbook (edition 2017)
The table above presents only a part of countries struggling with obesity. It does not show the country with the highest obesity rate, which is Nauru (with over 60% of obese people). Also, the main Asian countries are not included here. There the percentage of obese people is lower than average – the obesity in China is 6,2% and obesity in Japan is 4,3%. Generally, Asian culture and tradition are based on care for the health and body, so there, the obesity problem is not as serious as in Europe or America.
There are almost 50% obese adults and 20% overweight and obese children in Europe
Since the 90s, the number of obese adults in Europe has tripled and the number of obese children is ten times higher – nowadays, there are almost 50% obese adults and 20% overweight and obese children in Europe. The European Union attributes about 6% of its healthcare expenditures to obesity in Europe and diseases related to it.
Obesity in UK is a growing problem. Almost 6 in 10 women and 7 in 10 men in the UK are overweight or obese. The number of overweight children is also growing constantly. Many children struggle with excessive weight even before they are 6 years old, as shown by NHS obesity statistics. Childhood UK obesity was acclaimed a national emergency by the government in 2016. The adult obesity rates UK are higher than in all other Western European countries (except Malta and Iceland), as provided in the Global Burden Disease Study. No wonder, the British put a great emphasis on promoting a healthy lifestyle, especially a balanced diet and regular physical activity. More and more people become aware of the scale of the obesity epidemic UK and decide to fight against it, and the most important aspect of this battle is children’s education about the physical, social and psychological advantages of a healthy lifestyle.
The obesity rate in America is one of the highest in the whole world
Obesity rate in America is even higher than in Europe. The studies from 2020 show that in the United States 75% of the population is overweight or obese. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published a note in 2019 saying that over 40% of Americans are obese and 18% are severely obese, and these numbers are growing, unfortunately. Obesity in America is one of the most severe problems among adults and children, and the bad news is that all the predictions for the future show the growing number of obese Americans.
To illustrate the problem, we present a table showing the obesity rate in the US states, the European countries are shown in the table above.
Basically, weight is determined by the balance of calories intake and energy expending. If people consume more calories than are metabolized, they gain weight. If more calories are burnt than eaten, they lose weight. Hence, one of the main causes of obesity is overeating.
Yet, we present the ideas of what causes obesity below:
As shown, it is very hard to determine explicitly how is obesity caused as there are many types of cause of obesity and overeating, however, the main one is not the only reason for this condition. Also, it is very important to find the reason or reasons for obesity for every individual just because it would make the treatment much easier.
Genetics may cause obesity to some extent but it should never be an excuse or justification for people to start a healthy life
There is some evidence proving that obesity genetics may cause obesity to some extent. Generally, genes are instructing the body on how to respond to changes in the surrounding environment. There have been studies analyzing the differences and resemblances among relatives, twins, family members, and adoptees, which proved that the genetic factors matter in obesity development in family members. The other studies analyzed non-obese and obese people’s reactions, behaviors, and metabolism and it turned out that there are several genes that have different variants for obese and non-obese people which may influence the tendency to be obese. Anyway, whether genetics is partly responsible for obesity or not, it should never be an excuse or justification for people. Obesity can be treated and those who claim that they are obese because of genetics are totally wrong and uneducated.
One of the most frequently listed signs of obesity is a physical appearance. People with much excessive weight are big and inevitably it is the fat that causes such a physical appearance. So, whether a person is obese (especially severely obese) or not may be determined by just looking at a person.
Regarding the daily health problems which are obesity symptoms, they include:
Regarding obesity – symptoms are only a part of the equation. The most serious problem is that obesity causes many other obesity-related diseases and conditions. They include high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, chronic kidney disease, gallbladder disease, dementia, osteoarthritis, gout, even cancers. Additionally, signs and symptoms of obesity involve a psychological aspect – obese people tend to suffer from persistent depression, refrain from the social life, have more problems with work, relationships, emotions than people with a normal weight. They have difficulties with self-acceptance and confidence, which influences all other spheres of their lives. The psychological problems are sometimes so rooted that people need 2 parallel treatments – for obesity and for their mental health.
The health risks of obesity are very serious and in fact, all the obesity problems come down to the diseases and disorders being obesity effects. The health problems associated with obesity being in fact consequences of obesity. The effects of obesity on the body and health are described in detail below.
Obesity itself as well as obesity-related diseases are health hazards. What can obesity cause eventually is death – people with BMI over 35 are at two times higher risk of premature death than people with a healthy weight. The most frequent health problems caused by obesity include high blood pressure, stroke, heart diseases, type 2 diabetes, gallstones (and gallbladder disease), cancer, gout, osteoarthritis, asthma, or sleep apnea.
What also enhances the effects of obesity on health is:
It needs to be emphasized that losing even 5-10 kilograms may significantly improve health conditions, so any lost kilogram should be appreciated and motivating.
Obesity and type 2 diabetes are strongly related because obesity is proved to be one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a serious medical condition where the level of blood sugar is higher than normal. It may result in kidney disease, heart disease, stroke, blindness, or amputation. Obesity and type 2 diabetes are strongly related because obesity is proved to be one of the main causes of type 2 diabetes. The fact is that over 88% of people suffering from diabetes are overweight or obese. There have been numerous studies indicating how does obesity causes diabetes and the thing is that being obese makes cells become resistant to insulin, which causes high blood sugar. Losing weight (even 5-7% of the excessive weight) and becoming active (for minimum 2,5 hours a week) is proved to delay or even prevent diabetes and restore the normal blood sugar level.
Obesity may influence the following types of cancers: kidney, breast, uterine, colorectal, head and neck, pancreatic, esophageal, endometrium, thyroid, prostate, and gallbladder.
The aspects of obesity that have an influence on cancer diseases are:
Additionally, such factors as high birth weight, gaining much weight in adult life, or repeated losing and gaining weight may influence cancer development.
Depression may cause obesity and obesity may cause depression
Without any doubt, obesity and mental health are related to each other and to some extent dependent on each other. The relation between depression and obesity is twofold – depression may cause obesity and obesity may cause depression.
Regarding obesity as a cause of depression, it is claimed that obese people suffer from depression about 25% more often than people with a normal weight. Obesity makes people have very low self-esteem and self-image and refrain from social life. Also, obese people often have to deal with ostracism, stereotyping, or discrimination. Apart from that, difficulties and limitations at work, poor family life, inability to perform many daily activities often result from obesity and can lead to a deep depression.
On the other hand, depression may be the cause of obesity, especially among teenagers. Adolescents with depression are much more likely to be gaining weight. It is also proved that overweight teenagers struggling with depression are prone to become severely obese in the future. The main problem is usually that people suffering from depression tend to overeat and food becomes their only source of happiness, entertainment, and the way to deal with emotions.
People dealing with depression and obesity should undergo parallel treatments (psychotherapy or antidepressant treatment for depression as well as diet and exercises or bariatric surgery for obesity).
Heart disease is the cause of 1 in 4 deaths in the United States according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Obesity is proven to contribute to the development of heart diseases by:
High blood pressure may become very dangerous when it is not under medical control. It may result in a heart attack, stroke, or cause death. Generally, the common causes of hypertension are genetics, stress, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, and obesity.
Obesity increases the pressure on the heart and the force that it uses to pump blood, which causes high blood pressure. The studies show that 3 in 4 cases of hypertension are caused by obesity. Sometimes, especially when people are over 50 or with genetic conditioning, high blood pressure does not stem from obesity, but the medications lowering the blood pressure may result in weight gain, so it is always recommended to follow a healthy diet and stay physically active to prevent or tackle hypertension.
Dealing with obesity in pregnancy may have serious consequences for a woman as well as a baby, so it is much safer for a woman to have a weight loss surgery before pregnancy than experience obese pregnancy.
Having BMI over 30 may have the following consequences for a woman:
Obese women, of course, may get pregnant and give birth to a healthy child, however, they need to follow a healthy balanced diet and stay active. Pregnancy should never serve as an excuse to overeat
Babies are at risk of such health conditions as birth defects, childhood obesity, asthma, impaired growth, fetal macrosomia.
Women with a BMI over 30 expecting one baby should gain no more than 9 kilograms during pregnancy and women with BMI over 30 expecting more than one baby should not gain more than 19 kilograms. The higher BMI, the less weight should be gained. overweight and obese women who gain more kilograms, usually tend to overeat during pregnancy, which is completely unhealthy for them and a baby. Obese women, of course, may get pregnant and give birth to a healthy child, however, they need to follow a healthy balanced diet and stay active. Pregnancy should never serve as an excuse to overeat.
Obesity prevention is extremely important, especially that the obesity rates are constantly growing. The instructions are slightly different for kids and adults, we present the solutions dedicated to both groups.
How to prevent obesity for children:
How to prevent obesity for adults:
Generally, both for adults and children, preventing obesity boils down to a healthy diet and physical activity. Once these are followed, people may enjoy their healthy life!
Any form of obesity treatment aims at achieving a healthy weight, which entails decreasing BMI so that it fits the range between 18 and 25. Treatments for obesity reduce the risk of many diseases related to excessive weight and improve mental health also. It is very important to set short-term goals, e.g. to lose 5-10 kilograms instead of 50 kilograms – achieving the results boosts motivation and makes people believe they can achieve more weight loss.
The most common obesity-treatment is a diet. Just a balanced diet is not enough here, there is a need to introduce a calorie reduction which would enable losing weight. So, the combination of healthy meals with many vegetables and low-calorie intake is an ideal solution for obese people. Needless to say, any fast food, sweets, sugary beverages, or snacks should be totally eliminated. Any drastic diets promising unrealistic effects would never work.
The main rules of the obesity diet are:
The diet should be mixed with exercises and physical activity. The minimum time of exercising to stay healthy is 150 minutes a week. Those who want to lose weight with the help of physical activity should exercise for minimum 300 minutes a week. Also, this time should be extended week by week because the form and muscles are being built, which allows for more strenuous and frequent training. Apart from the aerobic and obesity exercises, people should stay as active as possible throughout the day (e.g. choose stairs instead of a lift, take walks, park a car further from a destination place). It is also recommended by WHO to reach 10 000 steps a day (when people take walks to work, with children or dogs, go shopping on foot, etc. it is rather easy to achieve such a foot number).
The other important factor of obesity solutions is a change of behavior. Here, it is highly recommended to use the help of experts and specialists (including psychologists, psychiatrists, and support groups). The main role of such counseling is re-building the connection between emotions and eating, restoring self-confidence, and gaining self-acceptance. Also, if a person struggles with any eating disorders, e.g. compulsive eating, it is the best way to get rid of it. There are many solutions available for people, they can attend individual meetings or group sessions, they can meet with psychologists, sociologists, psychiatrists, and dieticians. Regardless of the type and character of the meeting, it is of utmost importance to regain mental health with the help of specialists.
Once a diet and exercise do not bring the results, the doctor may prescribe weight-loss medications. Of course, meds are not a substitute for a healthy lifestyle, but rather work together with a diet and activity. The main advantage of such medications is stopping the hunger feeling. Any weight loss medication must be individually picked by a doctor. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) accepts the following meds for treating obesity: Orlistat (Alli, Xenical), Bupropion and naltrexone (Contrave), Phentermine and topiramate (Qsymia), and Liraglutide (Saxenda, Victoza). The medication treatment of obesity requires constant medical care and regular visits to the doctor.
If a diet, exercise, and medication do not bring any effects, the last resort is a weight loss surgery or endoscopic weight loss procedure.
The procedures include:
Weight loss procedures limit the stomach capacity, as a result of which only tiny amounts of food can be eaten. Patients need to follow a strict special diet after the surgery and totally change their lifestyle to avoid any complications or weight gain. Bariatric surgeries require several consultations (with a bariatric surgeon, psychologist, dietician, cardiologists) and undergoing many medical tests, however afterward bariatric patients are able to lose even up to 70% of their weight.
Obesity is a civilization disease in the modern world. The physical sign of it is the body look and dozens of additional kilograms, however, the more serious symptoms are many life-threatening diseases that obesity causes. Apart from heart diseases, diabetes, hypertension, cancer, strokes, and other serious conditions, obesity may cause death, which is the most frightening. Both children and adults are in group risk and worldwide, the number of obese people is growing. To prevent or treat obesity, regular physical activity, and a healthy diet is recommended. For the most part, it helps lose weight. However, those who are severely obese might be in need of medical treatment and weight loss surgery. Anyway, obesity can and must be treated and if a person is very motivated to restore health, we can guarantee that obesity can be overcome.
“Data & Statistics.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 7 Aug. 2019, www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/index.html.
“Health Risks of Being Overweight.” National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1 Feb. 2015, www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-risks-overweight.
“The Impact of Obesity on Your Body and Health.” My New Body, 13 Feb. 2020, www.mynewbody.com.mx/the-impact-of-obesity-on-your-body-and-health/.
“The Impact of Obesity on Your Body and Health: ASMBS.” American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, asmbs.org/patients/impact-of-obesity.
Jacobs, Frank. “Obesity in America vs Europe: 2 Maps Explain It All.” Big Think, Big Think, 23 Oct. 2018, bigthink.com/strange-maps/two-maps-and-one-graph-comparing-obesity-in-america-and-europe.
Jerry R. Balentine, DO. “Obesity Definition, Charts, BMI, Causes, Treatment.” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 2 Dec. 2019, www.medicinenet.com/obesity_weight_loss/article.htm.
Lockett, Eleesha. “How to Prevent Obesity: Tips for Kids and Adults.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 17 Oct. 2018, www.healthline.com/health/how-to-prevent-obesity.
“Obesity and Overweight.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight.
“Obesity, Weight, and Cancer Risk.” Cancer.Net, 15 May 2020, www.cancer.net/navigating-cancer-care/prevention-and-healthy-living/obesity-weight-and-cancer-risk.
Klaudia started to work for Clinic Hunter many years ago, just after graduating from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin in Poland and since that time, this job has become her biggest passion and inspiration.
She has gained necessary expertise and experience by serving patients from all over the world (mainly the UK, Scandinavian countries, and the USA), taking an active part in numerous live and video trainings with clinics in Poland, Hungary and Turkey, participating in international medical tourism conferences and events, and completing internal Clinic Hunter courses. Now, Klaudia is an accomplished patient advisor specialising in such fields as dentistry, plastic and bariatric surgery and hair loss treatment. Her main idea is helping people nad making their lives better, that is why this job brings her so much satisfaction and joy.
In private, Klaudia is a bike-tour lover. She travelled to over 25 countries and many of them she visited by bike. However, now she spends every spare moment with her little son.
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