Obesity: A dangerous epidemic

Obesity is a scary word.

It carries with it a great deal of preconceived notions and stereotypes. It conjures images of slovenly, overweight people gorging themselves at an all-you-can-eat buffet, but obesity is much more than just fodder for comedians and offensive jokes. Obesity has become a worldwide epidemic, and in no place is that more evident than right here in the UK.

Obesity can cause a variety of different problems for those who suffer from the debilitating condition. The problems that come with packing on the pounds can range from something as seemingly insignificant as not being able to find clothing in your size, to the myriad of life-threatening heart and health problems associated with being overweight, obese or morbidly obese. The long list of issues that obese individuals face is staggering.

The first step is defining obesity.

Obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass, and according to recent studies, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the UK are obese.

There are a few complicated ways to calculate body fat, but in recent years, Body Mass Index (BMI) has become the medical standard used to measure overweight and obesity. While the BMI does not actually measure body fat percentage, it is the most practical way for most people to compute their level of body fat because it correlates well with obesity. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.

Under government guidelines, people with a BMI of 20 – 24.9 are considered to be a normal weight for their height. Those with a BMI of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight while those with a BMI of 30 and above are considered obese. A BMI of 40 or more is morbidly obese.

Obese individuals (BMI of 30 and above) are at increased risk for physical ailments including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, high blood lipid levels, type 2 non-insulin diabetes, insulin resistance with elevated insulin blood levels, glucose intolerance, coronary heart disease, chest pain (angina), congestive heart failure, stroke, gallbladder disease with gallstones and gallbladder infections, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnoea and other respiratory problems, gout, skin rashes, orthopaedic problems (limb and joint stress etc.), some types of cancer (such as endometrial, breast, prostate, and colon), complications of pregnancy, poor female reproductive health (such as menstrual irregularities, infertility, irregular ovulation), bladder control problems (such as stress incontinence), and psychological disorders (such as depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, and low self esteem).

The excess body weight carried by the obese puts great stress on the pulmonary system, respiratory system, and in women can cause poor reproductive health. Carrying the additional weight also wreaks havoc on the joints, causing undue stress to the knees, ankles, hips, and back.

Think of obesity like a car pulling a trailer. Undue stress is put on all aspects of the vehicle, and this overexertion shortens the life of the car. You wouldn’t pull a horse trailer with a Ford Escort, would you? The body is not equipped to move that much weight.

Obesity also spawns a variety of psychological problems. It can cause low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders and distorted body image. All of which can lead down a slippery slope of continued overeating and overindulgence, making it difficult to adopt the lifestyle change necessary to lose the excess weight.

Obesity is a life-threatening problem. It affects every aspect of the afflicted person, and can greatly decrease their quality of life, but the good news is that there is hope. Get active, exercise, eat healthy, and talk to your GP about things to help you get back to a healthy weight.

So, unhitch the horse trailer and get on the road to a healthier you.

Start a diet plan at tescodiets.com

Thanks to tescodiets.com who have provided this article.