A Report On Obesity Epidemic
1.0 Terms of Reference
This report will explore the obesity epidemic, especially in the UK. The concept of obesity and the different definition of obesity by different studies will also be reviewed. The causes of obesity and who is affected by the disease, illnesses caused by obesity and how to overcome this endemic disease will also be looked into. The study will also be backed up with statistical evidence and the findings will be reported at the end of the report.
Based on the research survey conducted for this study, the following findings are considered relevant.
- It was found that by 2030, half of the UK could be obese if the current trends continue (Higgins, 2019).
- By 2050 obesity is predicted to affect 60% of adult men, 50% of adult women and 25% of children (Ramsay, 2020).
- Childhood obesity has become a critical epidemic with almost 1 in 5 children leaving primary school obese (RSPH, 2015)
- The obesity rate in adults for both genders in England and Scotland is 29%. Meanwhile, 27% of the population in Northern Ireland is obese (News Sky, 2020).
- According to (News Sky, 2020), women tend to have a slightly higher obesity rate than men.
- Regionally, the West Midlands has the highest rate of obesity at 33%, with London doing the best at 24% (News Sky, 2020).
- Households with the lowest incomes have higher obesity rates. 34% of adults in households with the lowest incomes are obese, compared with 21% of the highest incomes (News Sky, 2020).
WHO (2020) defined obesity as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk of health. Obesity is a complex disease that can increase the risk of other health challenges like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, etc. (Bubnis, 2020).
2.1.1 The Concept of Obesity?
There have several views on the concept of obesity. John (2019) argues that obesity is a sickness caused by the consumption of more calories than the body can use. In a similar study, (NCBI, 2020) reported that obesity arises as a result of an energy surplus condition, which occurs when there is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and the calories expended, that results in excess body weight. This energy imbalance is partly as a result of deep social and economic changes at levels past the control of any individual (NIH, 2010).
2.1.2 Who Is Obese? Body Mass Index (BMI)
In order to determine the difference between a normal weighted person and an obese person, the Body Mass Index (BMI) was established. The BMI standard of determining whether someone is obese or not, is a widely used standard, even in the UK (NHS, 2020). The body weight of a person according to BMI is determined by dividing the body weight of a person by the total height. The weight is measured in kilograms while the height of the person is measured in square meters. So, the procedure to determine if someone is obese is by measuring their weight and their height, dividing the weight by the height and obtaining the BMI index value (NHS, 2020). You might be quick to ask how the person is confirmed to be obese after the Body Mass Index is obtained. Well, for most adults, a BMI value between 18.5 and 24.9 only means that the person is healthy. Meanwhile, a person with a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is categorized to b over-weighted (NHS, 2020). Being overweight does not really translate to obesity, but people that are in this category have a higher chance of graduating to be obese. More so, people with a BMI between 30 and 39.9 are categorized to be obese. According to (MedicineNet, 2020), these persons are 20 percent weightier than their ideal weight after considering their height, age, sex and body build. Furthermore, persons that have BMI of 40 or above are considered to be severely obese. These sets of people are in danger of some chronic illnesses like stroke, Type 2 Diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, etc. (NHS, 2020).
2.2 Obesity Epidemic in the UK
The obesity epidemic in the UK has put the NHS under increasing pressure. The rate of admissions with diagnosis of obesity is increasing year by year ((Higgins, 2019)). According to News Sky (2020), obesity has nearly tripled in the last 40 years. However, there have been several intervention attempts by the Department of Health to tackle obesity in UK. One of these intervention programmes is the “fitter future for all” framework which was launched on the 9th of March, 2012 (DoH, 2020). The programme was targeted towards empowering citizens and sensitizing them in making healthy choices that could reduce the risk of overweight and obesity related diseases (DoH, 2020). Another obesity intervention is the “start active, stay active” programme which was recommended by UK chief medical officers on the physical activities that could help individuals maintain fitness in order to prevent obesity (Gov.UK, 2019). UK medical chiefs also designed guidance for children and young people with infographs and illustrations that is directed towards healthy everyday activities that could help in fighting obesity (DoH, 2020). The food in schools policy which was launched in 2013 by the Department of Health was also directed towards alleviating children obesity (DoE, 2013. The childhood obesity campaigns and the general intervention of obesity in UK are pure indications that the medical industry understands the dangers of obesity and allots it the attention it deserves.
2.3 Causes of Obesity
There are several factors that could lead to obesity. These factors differ based on individual differences. Some of the factors that are explained below:
The genes you inherit from your parents may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite and how your body burns calories during exercise (NHS, 2020).
A diet that’s high in calories, lacking in fruits and vegetables, full of fast food, and laden with high-calorie beverages and oversized portions contribute to weight gain (Sandra et. al, 2018).People can drink many calories without feeling full, especially calories from alcohol. Other high-calorie beverages, such as sugared soft drinks, can contribute to significant weight gain. If you have a sedentary lifestyle, you can easily take in more calories every day than you burn through exercise and routine daily activities. Looking at computer, tablet and phone screens is a sedentary activity. The number of hours you spend in front of a screen is highly associated with weight gain (Purnell, 2018).
2.3.3 Certain diseases and medications
In some people, obesity can be traced to a medical cause, such as Prader-Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Medical problems, such as arthritis, also can lead to decreased activity, which may result in weight gain (Mayo Clinic, 2020). Some medications can lead to weight gain if you don’t compensate through diet or activity. These medications include some antidepressants, anti-seizure medications, diabetes medications, antipsychotic medications, steroids and beta blockers (Mayo Clinic, 2020).
2.3.4 Psychological factors
For some people, emotions influence eating habits. Many people eat excessively in response to emotions such as boredom, sadness, stress, or anger. While most overweight people have no more psychological disturbances than normal weight people, about 30% of the people who seek treatment for serious weight problems have difficulties with binge eating (WHO, 2020).
2.3.5 Social issues
Social and economic factors are linked to obesity. Avoiding obesity is difficult if you don’t have safe areas to walk or exercise. Similarly, you may not have been taught healthy ways of cooking, or you may not have access to healthier foods. In addition, the people you spend time with may influence your weight — you’re more likely to develop obesity if you have friends or relatives with obesity (CDC, 2020).
2.5 Who is affected by Obesity?
Obesity is a general illness. It affects both the old and the young; male and female. The disease does not discriminate. However, according to NCHS (2020) data brief which was released in February, 2020, between 2017 and 2018, prevalence of obesity was 40.0% among young adults aged 20 to 39 years, 44.8% among middle-aged adults aged 40 to 59 years, and 42.8% among older adults aged 60 and older (News Sky, 2020). This only implies that obesity also tends to increase with age. In other words, a child that is not trained with a good dieting habit has a higher tendency of becoming overweight and a child that is overweight has a high likelihood of being obese as he climbs the age ladder (Davey, 2019).
2.6 Illnesses Caused by Obesity
Obesity exposes patients to diverse illnesses. Obese patients have a high risk factor of developing life-threatening diseases like type 2 diabetes hypertension, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, some type of cancer, etc. (Lloyd, et al. 2018).
2.6.1 Other negative effects of Obesity
Apart from physical illnesses, obesity also causes emotional and psychological breakdown. The disease attacks the self-esteem of the patients which in most cases result in depression (Science Daily, 2019). Patients of obesity are found to feel depressed about their physical state which pushes some into alcohol and more diet abuse, worsening the case (WHO, 2017).
2.7 Overcoming Obesity
Overcoming obesity requires the right attitude towards overall behaviour. Lifestyle change is one of the most effective strategies for overcoming obesity. Consciously adopting a healthy dieting plan and being disciplined enough to follow it through. According to (NHS, 2020), eating more fruits and vegetables, substituting fried junks with wholegrain varieties like bread, rice, pasta or other starchy food, taking more milk and dry foods and reducing the amount of high in fat & sugar food intake can go a long way in putting an obese patient back in shape.
2.7.1 The Role of Exercise in overcoming Obesity
The importance of exercise in overcoming obesity cannot be overemphasised. Regular exercise helps in burning accumulated calories and helps to maintain a healthy weight. This reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and increases the health of the heart (NHS, 2020). Registering in a gym and following up a proper routine could go a long way in putting back an obese patient to shape.
Obesity is a complex disease. The best way to manage obesity is by maintaining a good diet, physical activity, and lifestyle changes. Managing obesity involves improving the overall health, not just about losing weight. The key to effective weight loss is consistency. The best diet for you is the one that you can stick to in the long term. Achieving that perfect body is possible; it only requires consistency and self-discipline.
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