Sunday, 28 October 2012

Obesity: The Great Epidemic

Obesity is a condition of body wherein your body, at different spots acquires excessive fat deposits, in contravention to your weight. The spots can be arms, thighs, waist and the hips. With such a condition the body appears deformed. Being over-weight is commonly perceived as being obese. The medical standards lay out a chart that indicates the ideal or healthy range of weight for a given range of varying heights. Anything beyond the measures can be termed as condition of obesity. The usual term in use is BMI – Body Mass Index. BMI is the body weight divided by the height in meter squared. While a BMI of 25 and over is considered being over-weight, a BMI of 30 and over is being obese.

Till around the 60s, only 13% of the population was obese. Now not only 2/3s of the American adults are overweight but one in three of the Americans are obese. World over, the number of obese has doubled by the time of writing this article. In other words the disease has touched epidemic proportions. Treatment of the condition is not easy. Usually it takes 4 to 5 different experts practicing in different fields to analyze and consult each individual’s case and arrive at a mutual decision for the most likely prescription. If it didn’t work to the team’s expectations, they have to repeat the analysis to devise another prescription. Hence the treatment tends to be way too expensive. 

Most often than not people having lost some weight tend to gain it back in course of time. If long term maintenance of the lost weight can be assured, it promises to bring in significant improvement in heart conditions as well as diabetes and blood pressure and numerous chronic diseases. The other distressing health conditions include breast cancer, endometrial cancer, colon cancer, respiratory troubles, sleep apnea, gynecological problems, high cholesterol & Triglyceride, liver & gallbladder malfunction, coronary heart conditions etc. One can easily imagine the quantum of risk that we carry with ourselves and the strain it puts on the health system.

From around mid 60s, the obesity rates began shooting, mostly in developed countries affecting the affluent class. Later the affluent public in the less developed countries also began to acquire obesity. Then as high on calories, fast processed foods began making inroads and became available easily, it began affecting the less privileged class in the developed countries who would grab anything to suppress the hunger during their tight work schedules and who have little or no time for exercises or availability of safe space in their neighborhood. It is the middle aged public who is afflicted of this disease in the low-income countries, who can usually afford to buy such high calories fast foods and have little to offer nutrition. But food intake also treats different cultures and body shapes around the world differently. Korea, Japan are examples where the same food may not cause obesity at such alarming rates. Also females tend to gain weight swifter than the males.

There are various causes of obesity. There is an abundance of food of all kinds; we eat more often than during the 20s and 30s. So, passive consumption of food is widely prevalent. Time has brought development and that has brought more supply, enhanced taste, more food processing, more energy laden food, high on fat and carbohydrates, less in cost, technologically advanced transportation and distribution systems and marketing strategies. In contrast to the 20s, 30s and 40s, there are more malls and therefore more food courts; consequently ease of availability at any time of day or week. These trends are the main drivers in the US and the UK for gain in average weight of the public at large. These strategies then traveled overseas to the developing nations, obviously spreading it.

So the real causes of obesity can be attributed to sedentary life styles, high fat, high energy food intake and behavioral factors. When we are stressed out or depressed we reach out for comfort food, as we call it. Despite being not really hungry we consume such food items and our brain tricks us into achieving relief from such conditions. A size-able adult population in the Americas consumes anti-depressants and it is not difficult to imagine that half of such people are over prescribed. Anti-depressants are known to cause side effects in the form of unusual weight gain.

Only a widespread awareness about this lethal disease together with measures needs to go out to the masses to bring it into control. And to start with, why not adopt Medifast Diet that offers you a lot of weightloss tips that will inspire and guide you in the path of a healthy lifestyle.

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