Obesity and weight
May 24, 2007 by Peter Jameson
The incidence of overweight and obesity are increasing and the percentage of adults who are obese has roughly doubled since the mid-1980's.
UK Obesity Statistics
Approximately 46% of men in England and 32% of women are overweight (a body mass index of 25-30 kg/m2), and a further 17% of men and 21% of women are obese (a body mass index of more than 30 kg/m2 ).
Both overweight and obesity increase with age and whereas about 28% of men and 27% of women aged 16-24 are overweight or obese 76% of men and 68% of women aged 55-64 are overweight or obese.
The United States
The United States now has the highest obesity rate of any industrialized nation in the world and an estimated 300,000 people die each year from health problems related to obesity. In addition, obesity is a contributing risk factor for four of the seven leading causes of death.
Today about 50 million American adults are obese and an additional six million are super-obese meaning that they weigh a hundred pounds more than they should and no other nation in history has gotten so fat so fast !!
The Health Hazards
The health hazards related to obesity include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, atherosclerosis, osteoarthritis, gall bladder disease, sleep apnea, and weakened joints.
In addition to these serious health concerns, overweight people take a psychological pounding from the social stigma of being overweight.
Obese people are twenty percent less likely to marry than their thinner counterparts and the annual household income of obese people is nearly $7,000 less than that of thinner people plus they are ten percent more likely to live a life of poverty.
All in all obesity and its ramifications have an obvious and very depressing effect on self esteem.
A Losing Battle?
Despite the worldwide trend towards obesity, the percentage of people that are trying to lose weight is also far greater.
Their strategies for losing weight range from OTC (over-the-counter) diet pills to physician supervised weight loss programs that integrate exercise and dieting with psychological counseling. Unfortunately however most people who need to lose weight are not succeeding and there is very little scientific evidence to indicate that any of these strategies is consistently effective for most people.
Losing Weight Costs Money
It is perhaps ironic that losing weight costs money but experts of the WHO task force estimate that between 5 and 10 percent of the total health budgets of Western countries are involved with obesity, including the treatment of the obesity related illnesses such as arthritis, high blood pressure, back problems, and physiotherapy costs. Moreover, it is considered in many circles that these estimates are probably way too low.
And The Children?
The occurrence of obesity increases with age throughout childhood and in 1996, around 13% of 8 year olds and 17% of 15 year olds in England were obese.
A recently released U.S. report states that more children aged between 12 to 20 are more overweight than ever before and as of 1999, there were nearly twice as many overweight children and almost three times as many overweight adolescents as there were in 1980.
By the age of five most children have early signs of atherosclerosis and letting our children choose their own diets is like letting someone without a driver's license drive in a NASCAR race. Somebody needs to teach children how and why to eat and the schools aren't going to do it. In fact many schools have sold out to the soft drink and fast food companies and even have candy sales to raise money.
Asthma and diabetes are exploding in all children's age groups and much of this is happening because we taught them how to respond to name brand advertising rather than learn about their bodies' needs and the dangers inherent in many of the foods we eat.
We Need Fat
Fat in and of itself is not unhealthy and on the contrary we all need some fat to keep us warm and provide a cushion for our bones and organs and it is only when fat grows to excess that we have a problem. Excess fat is uncomfortable, unhealthy, and considered by society to be unattractive. Fat cells themselves release chemicals, like Interleukin 6 and TNF (tumor necrosis factor alpha) which are known to be inflammatory and thus cause cardiovascular and other degenerative diseases.
Much of current research indicates that obesity is far unhealthier than we previously realized.
The Socio-economic Differences in Obesity
Perhaps surprisingly obesity is more common in adults employed in manual occupations and particularly in women. A quarter of women working in unskilled manual occupations have a BMI of more than 30 kg/m2 compared to one in seven of those employed in a professional role. However both men and women working in unskilled manual occupations are over four times as likely to be classified as morbidly obese as those in professional employment
Weight Loss Advice
Regardless of how much excess weight or fat you want to lose, if you want to lose the weight permanently then your diet program should be directed toward a slow and gradual weight loss.
All official government dietary guidelines indicate that unless your general practitioner feels your particular health condition would benefit from a more rapid weight loss that you should not expect to lose more than two pounds of fat a week. However your initial weight loss which is mainly water will in most cases may be greater.