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Obesity Epidemic

Obesity Epidemic

Since 1975, global obesity has nearly tripled.
In 2016, over 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and up were overweight. Over 650 million of these people were obese.
In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 and up were overweight, and 13% were obese.

The majority of the world’s population lives in countries where being overweight or obese kills more people than being underweight.
In 2020, 39 million children under five were overweight or obese.
In 2016, over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 were overweight or obese.
Obesity can be avoided.
What exactly are obesity and overweight?

Obesity and overweight are abnormal or excessive fat accumulations that can harm one’s health.
Body mass index (BMI) is a simple weight-for-height index commonly used to classify adults as overweight or obese. It is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).
WHO defines overweight and obesity in adults as follows:

Overweight is defined as having a BMI greater than or equal to 25, and obesity as having a BMI greater than or equal to 30.
Because it is the same for both sexes and all ages of adults, BMI is the most useful population-level measure of overweight and obesity. It should be regarded as a rough guide because it may not correspond to the same degree of fatness in different individuals.

When defining overweight and obesity in children, age must be considered.

Children under the age of five
For children under the age of five:

Overweight is defined as being more than two standard deviations above the WHO Child Growth Standards median, and obesity is defined as being more than three standard deviations above the WHO Child Growth Standards median.

Tables and graphs: WHO child growth standards for children under the age of five years
Children aged 5 to 19 years
For children aged 5 to 19, overweight and obese are defined as follows:

Obesity is a BMI-for-age greater than two standard deviations above the WHO Growth Reference median. Being overweight is BMI-for-age greater than one standard deviation above the WHO Growth Reference median.
Tables and graphs: WHO growth standards for children aged 5 to 19 years
Overweight and obesity facts
Following are some recent WHO global estimates.

In 2016, over 1.9 billion adults aged 18 and up were overweight. Over 650 million of these adults were obese.
In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 and up were overweight (39% of men and 40% of women).
In 2016, approximately 13% of the world’s adult population (11% of men and 15% of women) were obese.
Between 1975 and 2016, the global prevalence of obesity nearly tripled.
An estimated 38.2 million children under the age of five were overweight or obese in 2019. Overweight and obesity, once thought to be a problem only in high-income countries, are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries, particularly in urban areas. Since 2000, the number of overweight children under five has increased by nearly 24% in Africa. In 2019, Asia was home to nearly half of all children under five who were overweight or obese.

In 2016, over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 were overweight or obese.

Overweight and obesity have increased dramatically among children and adolescents aged 5 to 19, from 4% in 1975 to just over 18% in 2016. Both boys and girls have seen an increase in obesity: in 2016, 18% of girls and 19% of boys were overweight.

In 1975, less than 1% of children and adolescents aged 5-19 were obese; by 2016, more than 124 million children and adolescents (6% of girls and 8% of boys) were obese.

Overweight and obesity are associated with more deaths than underweight. Globally, there are more obese than underweight people, except in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

What factors contribute to obesity and overweight?
Obesity and overweight are caused by an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. On a global scale, there have been:

An increase in the consumption of energy-dense foods high in fat and sugars; and an increase in physical inactivity as a result of the increasingly sedentary nature of many types of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.
Environmental and societal changes associated with development, as well as a lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transportation, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing, and education, frequently cause changes in dietary and physical activity patterns.

What are the most common health consequences of being overweight or obese?
A high BMI is a significant risk factor for noncommunicable diseases such as:

Cardiovascular diseases (primarily heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012; diabetes; musculoskeletal disorders (particularly osteoarthritis, a severely disabling degenerative joint disease); and some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).
With increasing BMI, the risk of these noncommunicable diseases rises.
Obesity Epidemic
Childhood obesity is linked to an increased risk of adult obesity, premature death, and disability. Obese children, however, have breathing difficulties, an increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, and psychological effects, in addition to increased future risks.

Malnutrition is causing a double burden.
Malnutrition is now a “double burden” in many low- and middle-income countries.

While these countries struggle with infectious diseases and malnutrition, they also see an increase in noncommunicable disease risk factors such as obesity and overweight, particularly in urban areas.
It is not uncommon for undernutrition and obesity to coexist within the same country, community, and household.
Low- and middle-income children are more vulnerable to the inadequate prenatal, infant, and early-childhood nutrition. Simultaneously, these children are exposed to high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, energy-dense, and micronutrient-deficient foods, which are less expensive but also lower in nutrient quality. These dietary patterns, combined with lower levels of physical activity, result in significant increases in childhood obesity, while issues of undernutrition remain unresolved.

How can we reduce overweight and obesity?
Obesity and overweight, as well as the diseases associated with them, are largely preventable. Supportive environments and communities play a critical role in shaping people’s choices by choosing healthier foods and regular physical activity the easiest (the most accessible, available, and affordable), thereby preventing overweight and obesity.

Individuals can do the following:

Limit total fat and sugar energy intake; increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and nuts; and engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread through the week for adults).
Individual responsibility can only be fully realized when people have access to a healthy way of life. As a result, at the societal level, it is critical to assist individuals in adhering to the above recommendations by sustaining the implementation of evidence-based and population-based policies that make regular physical activity and healthier dietary choices available, affordable, and easily accessible to all, particularly the poorest individuals. A tax on sugar-sweetened beverages is an example of such a policy.

The food industry can play an important role in promoting healthy diets by doing the following:

Reducing the fat, sugar, and salt content of processed foods; ensuring that healthy and nutritious options are available and affordable to all consumers; restricting marketing of high-sugar, high-salt, and high-fat foods, particularly those aimed at children and teenagers; and ensuring the availability of healthy food options and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace.
Watch this video below and respond to the improvements (or lack of improvements) you’ve noted to our nation’s Obesity Epidemic over the past 10 years. Use evidence to support your position.

Discussion Questions: Evaluation is based on the following three criteria 1) Substance of the posting or other media method 2) Regularity and consistency of the posting and 3) The degree to which postings expand the level of dialogue and analysis.

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