5 Critically Important Facts About Obesity

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5 Critically Important Facts About Obesity graphic © naturalhealthzone.org.

1. Obesity Is Directly Connected To The “Typical” Modern Lifestyle

One of the most important markers of a person’s health is their weight. As society becomes more and more developed, we have created more and more ways to automate our daily activities and increase our opportunities for leisure. Also, food is mass produced, prepared faster and more additives are used to enhance flavor and storage life. But this all comes with a cost. More and more people are eating fast food and TV dinners (or rather, “internet dinners”) and living sedentary lives with no exercise. When your lifestyle includes a diet high in fat and a complete lack of exercise, you can become overweight – and worse, obese.

2. BMI Is A Fairly Good Indicator But Not Infallible

One method to compute obesity calculates a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI), or weight-per-height. There is a lot of talk on how much of a predictive factor BMI is in a person’s predisposition to disease – but medical research has the final say. The higher the BMI is, the more likely a person is to develop cardiometabolic diseases – namely diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidemia, and coronary heart disease (CHD). [1] Normal BMI is from 18 to 24.99. A person is considered overweight if his or her BMI is from 25 to 29.99. A BMI of 30 and higher is obese.

Note however that people with very strong muscle development i.e. bodybuilders will have a very high BMI while they may simultaneously have low body fat. BMI is a good “general marker” but the influence of musculature should be taken into consideration.

There are numerous ways to calculate body fat – including the “skin fold caliper” (cheap but effective) and expensive methods such as hydrostatic weighing – which gives +/- 1.5% error of body fat measurement but requires being submerged in a specialized tank of water.

obesità
Medical Complications Of Obesity graphic © rob3000 – fotolia.com

3. Obesity Is Not Just An “American Problem”

While Americans often bear the brunt of “fat jokes”, they are actually nowhere near the number one country with the largest percentage of the population being obese! Most of the countries in the top ten are actually in the Middle East:

Kuwait – 42.8 %
Saudi Arabia – 35.2%
Egypt – 35%
Jordan – 34.3%
United Arab Emirates (UAE) – 33.7%
South Africa – 33.5%
Mexico – 33%
USA – 32%
Syria – 32%
Venezuela – 31%

4. Obesity Is A Genuine Health Problem

Many people disapprove of the word “fat” because it brings along a sense of negativity when talking about body image. However, being obese isn’t simply a state of mind or a type of appearance. According to numerous medical studies, obesity is directly linked to various diseases! Heart problems are at the top of the list. [2] An unhealthy diet and lack of physical activity causes fat to deposit in blood vessels, which impairs the heart’s ability to pump and circulate blood through the body. Even more dangerous is when there are fat deposits the blood vessels leading to and from the heart.

5. Your Lifestyle Choices Play A Crucial Part In The Battle

Obesity is caused by two main factors – a diet high in fat and lack of physical exercise. [3] When a person eats too much, not just fatty food but food in excess of the body’s needs, it creates a build-up of fat instead of creating energy. When you eat normally but do not exercise, the same thing happens – there is an excess of fat and carbohydrates that become fatty deposits. The scariest thing about these deposits is that they can end up anywhere. You might be walking around with a deposit of fat in your heart and you might not know it. Genetics also play a role in a person’s predisposition to become obese but not as much of a factor as unhealthy lifestyle choices. If you want to battle obesity, adjusting your diet and exercise are your best bets.

References:

[1] Klein, S., Allison, D. B., Heymsfield, S. B., Kelley, D. E., Leibel, R. L., Nonas, C., & Kahn, R. (2007). Waist circumference and cardiometabolic risk: a consensus statement from shaping America’s health: Association for Weight Management and Obesity Prevention; NAASO, the Obesity Society; the American Society for Nutrition; and the American Diabetes Association.Obesity, 15(5), 1061-1067. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17490953

[2] Eckel, R. H., & Krauss, R. M. (1998). American Heart Association call to action: obesity as a major risk factor for coronary heart disease. Circulation,97(21), 2099-2100. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9626167/

[3] Smeltzer, et. al. (2010). Brunner and Suddarth’s Textbook of Medical-Surgical Nursing. 1055-1056.

Infographic Info Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Obesity-waist_circumference.svg
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2014/05/28/america-tops-list-of-10-most-obese-countries
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity
http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/medical/worlds-most-obese-countries/ss-BBeH6Jg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_the_United_States

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