Obesity – A Public Health Problem

Obesity is a chronic condition characterized by excess body fat. This accumulated body fat can lead to unhealthy effects in the body and reduced life expectancy. To be considered obese, the body mass index should be greater than 30 kg/m2. Obesity increases the occurrence of health problems and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, breathing difficulties and osteoarthritis. These problems have caused alarms all over the world because of its deadly effects and the increasing number of obesity today. According to the World Health Organization, one in three Americans is obese and that the number of obese people has significantly increased over the past two decades.

It is the leading preventable cause of death around the world. It is considered one of the most serious public health problems today.

Causes of Obesity
When a person eats more calories than the body can burn, weight begins to increase. Excessive and frequent eating of foods high in calories and lack of exercise or physical activity are the main causes of obesity. The choice of food such as those rich in carbohydrates and fats also cause obesity.

There are also other causes of obesity such as:

Genetics – Chances are when a person’s parent or both parents are obese, that person is likely to become obese in the future.

Slow Metabolism – Women are more prone to obesity than men because men have more muscles than women. Muscles burn more calories than other tissues and due to this reason women find it difficult to lose weight.

Medication – Anti depressants, anti convulsants, diabetic medications, some high blood pressure medications and antihistamine are known to cause weight gain.

Proper Diet and exercise are the primary treatments for obesity. People try to lose weight in the wrong way such as starving themselves and going on crash diets. Studies show that people who diet unhealthily are more likely to gain weight. The right way to lose weight is to eat healthy foods in moderation and lose weight modestly. Rapid weight loss is not advised. Diet quality is also important. Energy dense foods that are high in fats and sugar need to be reduced. Intake of dietary fiber should be increased. One needs to consult his or her physician, dietitian and weight loss trainer for the right weight loss program.

When diet and exercise is not enough or effective, anti obesity drugs are given by doctors to obese patients. In severe cases of obesity, surgery is conducted or intragastric balloon is placed inside the stomach to reduce the amount of food intake or to reduce bowel length in order to reduce absorption of nutrients.

A healthy lifestyle is needed to achieve the right weight for one’s body type. The choice of the right and healthy foods, an active lifestyle and regular exercise are the things one needs to follow to prevent obesity. Some genetic predisposition causes obesity to occur. This can also be prevented by proper control of the condition. The goal in dealing with obesity is not to achieve the ideal weight but rather to achieve and maintain a healthier weight.

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