Humankind has battled chronic food shortage and malnutrition for a long time. The recent global obesity epidemic, which has become a health crisis, came into the limelight during the past few decades. Gradual food increment started after the technological developments of the 18th century. Technological advancements led to increased longevity and body size due to grown food and food varieties. However, since the Second World War, the amount of easily accessible foods, combined with reduced physical exercise, has dramatically increased, accounting for the increased obesity rates.
Food shortage throughout history led to connotations that being fat was good. The artists reflected the notion that people with many "flesh" were healthy in literature, arts, and medical opinions. However, things changed during the 19th century, where fat people faced stigmatization. During the 20th century, health experts discovered the relationship between obesity and increased death rates. Additionally, they linked obesity to other chronic illnesses, including hypertension, diabetes, and heart disorders, and termed it a risk factor for kidney disease.
Healthy Weight and Obesity
The identification of the ideal weight for each individual remains a challenge. Various factors play a role in determining a person's weight, including sex, age, muscle-fat ratio, and fat distribution in the body. However, maintaining a healthy weight is crucial for health as it enables you to lower the risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disorders, high blood pressure, and different types of cancer.
In the United States, obesity prevalence is on the rise. It has become a complicated phenomenon that scientists have struggled to understand for quite some time. Body mass index, which is attained by dividing body weight (in kilograms) by height (meters squared), is the criteria used to determine obesity.
Symptoms and Signs of Obesity
Increased body fat appears as the most visible sign of obesity. However, other symptoms of obesity include:
1. Frequent Heartburn
Changes in body weight can lead to increased acid reflux and heartburn. Many obese and overweight individuals suffer from GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which shows nausea, belching, bitter taste in the mouth, and abdominal discomfort.
Excessive snoring while sleeping and restlessness after waking up is a common sign of obesity. Regular snores and difficulty in sleeping may result in sleep apnea, a condition that affects your breathing patterns. Sleep apnea forces your breathing to start and stop when sleeping rapidly. This pattern prevents you from getting enough oxygen and results in fatigue when waking up. Obesity causes your body to store excessive fat around your neck and narrows the air path, leading to pauses in breathing or inadequate breathing.
3. Waist Measurement
The size of your waist can help you determine if you are overweight or not. Waist circumference that exceeds 35 and 40 inches in women and men, respectively, indicates excessive fat, which increases your risk of contracting high blood pressure, diabetes, and low metabolism.
4. Painful Joints
Obesity leads to osteoarthritis, a common category of arthritis. Osteoarthritis leads to joint pain, decreased mobility, and low quality of life.
Having extra weight increases pressure on your joints. Thus, experiencing pain in the knees, hips, and back may a sign of obesity.
Excessive weight increases pressure on your body organs. If executing simple tasks, such as cleaning or tying shoelaces, leads to fatigue or difficulty breathing, you might be obese. Excess weight causes airway inflammation, making breathing difficult.
Adverse Effects and Future Consequences of Obesity
Obese individuals have increased risks of getting other medical conditions compared to those with recommended boy weight. These diseases include:
• Gall bladder disorder
• Coronary heart disorder
• High cholesterol
• Different types of cancer, including breast, leukemia, and colon cancer
Economic and Societal Impacts
Obesity has a significant impact healthcare system. It increases healthcare costs, including diagnostic, preventive, and treatment fees, and reduces productivity due to deaths and sicknesses. The estimated medical costs associated with obesity amounts to over $147 billion annually.
Obesity causes some societal effects, including discrimination and social marginalization. The disorder also diminishes the quality of life as it inhibits someone from doing the things they used to do, including recreational activities.
Causes of Obesity: Common and Uncommon
While the deficiency of HGH growth hormones leads to increased body fat and reduced lean body mass, obesity results from several factors, including genetics and behavioral characteristics, including dietary habits, physical inactivity, and medication use, contributing to the epidemic's growth.
The most common causes of obesity include:
• Consuming excess calories
• Physical inactivity
• Deficient diet-eating significant amounts of junk and processed foods
• Community environment which does not have a setting for physical inactivity, including lack of sidewalks or playgrounds
The most unusual causes of obesity include:
• Genetics- genes may influence the amount of fat your body stores, how your body controls your appetite, how your body burns calories, and how efficiently your body changes fat into energy. Follow to know more about metabolic syndrome and how it can be reversed.
• PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome)- a condition that causes hormonal imbalance in the female reproductive system
• Prader- Willi syndrome- a disorder that someone gets at birth and results in abnormal hunger
• Cushing syndrome- a disorder that results from high levels of stress hormones
Ways to Fight Extra Weight and Keep Healthy Life
The following tips can help you shed excess weight and maintain a healthy weight:
• Reduce portion sizes to control calorie intake
• Engage in physical activity
• Reduce the number of carbohydrates you consume
• Reduce fat consumption
• Eat healthy snacks such as nuts, fruits, and low-fat dairy products
• Limit processed foods
• Eat more protein
• Avoid added sugar
• Consume more water
• Get enough sleep
While obesity is a global crisis that affects each of us in varied ways, it is preventable. We can reduce the prevalence rates by changing policies to ensure everyone can access a healthy diet and good workout choices.