Obesity: A Global Epidemic

1. Introduction

Obesity is a global problem that has reached epidemic proportions in both developed and developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is defined as an excess body weight for a particular height. Overweight and obesity are measured using body mass index (BMI). BMI is a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his or her height in meters (kg/m2). A BMI of 25-29.9 kg/m2 is defined as overweight, and a BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2 is considered obese.
Currently, worldwide, more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and older are overweight, and of these, over 650 million adults are obese. The prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975. In 2016, 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight, and 13% were obese. Also, 41 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese in 2016. By 2025, it is predicted that nearly 74 million children will be overweight or obese if current trends continue.
Obesity is a complex chronic disease with multiple etiologies that often lead to other comorbidities such as type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), hypertension, stroke, some types of cancer (endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate), gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, fatty liver disease, sleep apnea, and depression. Obesity is caused by an imbalance between energy intake from food and energy expenditure from physical activity and metabolism. This imbalance can be due to a variety of reasons such as genetic factors, overeating, eating high-calorie foods, sedentary lifestyle, endocrine disorders etc. Obesity results in large financial costs to society due to the increase in health care costs and lost productivity.

2. Main causes of obesity

The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and energy expenditure. When a person consumes more calories than they burn off, the excess energy is stored as fat which leads to weight gain and eventually obesity if left unchecked. While calories are definitely a factor when it comes to weight gain/loss – not all calories are created equal i.e., 100 calories from candy will have a different effect on your weight than 100 calories from chicken breast. Another factor that contributes to obesity is an individual’s genetic makeup which can play a role in how easily they gain weight and where they tend to store fat on their bodies (for example: “apple” vs “pear” shaped bodies). Additionally, gender also plays a role with women generally having more body fat than men due to childbearing needs as well as hormonal differences. Finally, certain medical conditions such as hypothyroidism or Cushing’s Syndrome can lead to weight gain because they affect the body’s metabolism or ability to break down fats properly. In summary – the main cause of obesity is an imbalance of calorie intake vs calorie expenditure but there are many other contributing factors such as genetics, gender, and medical conditions.

3. Risk factors for obesity

There are many risk factors associated with obesity including but not limited to: genetics (family history), age (being middle-aged or older), race (African American, Latino American, Native American), income (low income households), education level (less educated), smoking status (current smokers), sleep habits (getting less than 7 hours per night), and certain medical conditions (hypothyroidism, polycystic ovary syndrome, etc.). Being overweight or obese also puts individuals at a greater risk for developing other chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.

4. Management and prevention of obesity

The management and prevention of obesity revolves around three main pillars: lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery. Lifestyle changes involve making modifications to diet and physical activity levels in order to create a calorie deficit and promote weight loss. This can be done through a variety of methods such as eating smaller portion sizes, cutting out processed foods and sugary drinks, eating more fruits and vegetables, and exercising for at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. Medications for obesity management are typically only used in cases where lifestyle changes alone have not been successful in achieving significant weight loss. The most common medications used to treat obesity are appetite suppressants, fat absorption inhibitors, and metabolic modifiers. Surgery is usually only considered as a last resort after all other options have failed because it is expensive and carries with it a potential for complications. The most common types of surgery performed to treat obesity are gastric bypass surgery and gastric banding surgery.

5. Summary emerging research findings in the area of obesity in general

There is a lot of ongoing research in the area of obesity with new findings being published regularly. Some recent findings include:
-A study that found that people who are obese have a higher risk of developing dementia later in life
-A study that found that bariatric surgery can lead to sustained weight loss and improvements in quality of life
-A study that found that a very low calorie diet can be an effective way to achieve short-term weight loss
-A study that found that people who are obese are more likely to die from Covid-19 than people of normal weight

In summary, obesity is a complex chronic disease with multiple etiologies that often lead to other comorbidities. The main cause of obesity is an imbalance between calorie intake and energy expenditure but there are many other contributing factors such as genetics, gender, and medical conditions. Management and prevention of obesity revolves around lifestyle changes, medication, and surgery. There is a lot of ongoing research in the area of obesity with new findings being published regularly.

FAQ

The main causes of obesity are overeating and lack of physical activity.

Obesity can be prevented by eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

Obese individuals can manage their weight by making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise.

The health risks associated with obesity include heart disease, diabetes, and joint problems.