Overweight and Obesity in Adults
Overweight & Obesity in Adults
Obesity is a condition with an excessive accumulation of fat in the body. Body Mass Index or BMI is a rough guide to ascertain whether a person is obese or not. BMI is the ratio of a person’s weight (in kilograms) to the square of his or her height (in meters). A person with BMI of 30 or above is considered as obese whereas one with a BMI between 25 to 30 is considered to be overweight.
From above description, it is clear that being overweight is just one step short of being obese. These two conditions are major risk factors for most, if not all, of the “so called” serious lifestyle diseases. As such there is no clear cut division as to what disease will affect at what BMI but one can easily deduce that an obese person runs a greater risk of getting afflicted with one or more of such diseases.
The problem of being overweight and obesity are on the rise in both the developed and the developing nations. From 1980, the global count of the obese has doubled in 2014. It is ironical that it is not the hunger but the twin problems of overweight and obesity that are responsible for greater number of deaths in our world. It should be noted that these both these problems are preventable. The research shows that a modest reduction of weight by just 5 to 10 percent can lead to considerably reduced health risks.
The fundamental cause for obesity and overweight is an imbalance between the intake and expenditure of calories. This situation is akin to an individual’s bank balance wherein the current balance at a given time is a reflection of his or her deposits and withdrawals.
The obesity and overweight are precursors of myriad diseases with deadly consequences. Together, these two conditions are responsible for a heavier toll of human suffering and death which is far less than the toll of any war, famine, or natural calamity that has ever struck mankind. A little less than half of all diabetes cases, one-fourth of ischemic heart disease cases and an ever-increasing proportion of cancers are directly attributable to overweight and obesity. Some of such conditions are
- Heart disease and stroke (the leading cause of death in 2012)
- Cancers of the breast, esophagus, intestines, kidneys, pancreas, thyroid,
gall bladder, and uterus
- High blood pressure
- Congenital abnormalities of the newborn
- Changes in the menstrual cycle
- High cholesterol
- Trouble breathing
In order to tackle overweight and obesity, a multi-level approach is so crucial that any progress on one front can easily be negated by laxity on the other.
At the individual level
The dietary intake should limit total fat intake, shifting fat consumption from saturated to unsaturated fats, and limiting intake of sugar and salt. In addition, one must
- reduce energy intake from fats and sugars
- upscale consumption of fruit and vegetables pulses, whole grains and nuts
- engage in regular physical activity
At the community level
The government, NGOs, parents, teachers, and other stakeholders should facilitate measures to modify dietary behavior and improve physical activity.
Ensure physical activity facilities and make available healthy dietary choices at reasonable rates. At least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical activity on most days is recommended for all ambulatory adults.
At the food manufacturing and mass media level
- Balance the content of food constituents
- Manufacture and sale of foods manufactured as per the government guidelines
- Responsible advertising by the industry
At the family level
A healthy lifestyle can help prevent overweight and obesity. Many lifestyle habits begin during childhood. Thus, parents and families should encourage their children to make healthy choices, such as following a healthy diet and being physically active.
- Follow a healthy eating plan.
- Focus on portion size.
- Be active.
- Reduce screen time.
- Keep track of your weight, body mass index, and waist circumference.
Printing, copying, scanning, photographing, reproducing, and distribution or sharing of this article in any form for personal and educational use is permitted by the author with appropriate citation of the source.
It is the author’s humble contribution to his fellow beings to share information and enhance awareness about health conditions.
Dr Vinay Kumar
Senior Consultant Dermatologist
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