Obesity; the epidemic that is quickly taking over the world

 

Forget smoking and cancer, the most evident, yet conspicuously ignored international health challenge is obesity. Whilst we tend to blame everyone else but ourselves about our overweight state of being, it’s whether we like it or not, our chosen lifestyle that is to blame.

A passing look at the statistics issued by surveying organizations immediately testifies to how dramatic the situation is, in the US and beyond. With restaurants and fast food chains serving up to five times larger portions than they did 30 years ago, we just seem to eat more and live less, and less. Unfortunately, it’s not just what we’re gorging on. According to the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, we tend to wash down those king size burgers with gulps of soft drinks: “From 1989 to 2008, calories from sugary beverages increased by 60% in children ages 6 to 11, from 130 to 209 calories per day, and the percentage of children consuming them rose from 79% to 91%.” A Gallup Wellbeing survey had some interesting evidence to demonstrate too: A poor 25% of Americans only bothers to walk to work, the rest they just use their cars. Convenient, yes. Alarmingly unhealthy, yes, yes.

What is more upsetting is that 8 out of 10 children are on a daily basis driven to school. No one seems to bother using their feet, perhaps it is not a cool thing to do any more. This survey based on 850,000 participants also illustrated another upsetting “American” fact, that media in one form or another dominate our children’s lives. When 25 years ago children’s only game, constituted of just going to play outside. Today, tablets, iPads, smartphones and gaming consoles are regrettably our children’s primary; almost exclusive entertainment outlet. On average a child spends over 7 hours engaged with media and home technology.

A last Spring analysis has reported how there has been no major difference in the exercising habits of Americans from 2010 to 2011. If we don’t take the trouble setting an inspiring example for our future society, who will? A longitudinal survey carried out by the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) from 2000 to 2010 has established that 35.7% of American adults are considered obese. While an upsetting 16.9% of children and teens is also classified as overweight or obese. What these percentages actually translate in, in terms of population is disheartening: About 78.5 million adults are living with obesity, that’s 2 in 3 US adults. As for children, that number is almost 13 million.

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What is obesity costing you?

Well, pretty much your life. Obesity is not a joke, it puts your health at great risk, compromising greatly one’s quality and lifestyle level. Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, strokes and even some cancers are but a few, health-decreasing risks for obese individuals. Health costs are not delimited exclusively to health, there’s also a heavy toll that the whole society has to bear because of someone’s ravenous lifestyle. It is estimated that obese people spend more on personal health costs annually than smokers do. An obese person will pay $500 more than a smoker will pay for treating any health problem brought by obesity and smoking respectively. Taking a more generalized look, all healthcare costs that are obesity induced are a monstrous $147 billion per year.

Ending with a more positive note, a July 2012 poll, has shown how Americans are slowly but finally beginning to realize how dangerous obesity is, putting the latter as the number one social health challenge.

 

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