This week is National Obesity Awareness Week (12-18th January 2015)
Obesity presents itself in the news every week, if not more than once. Please don’t switch off and ignore the messages. If you ever need a reason to take Obesity seriously, read these facts below:
1. Globally, obesity is at epidemic proportions. According to the World Health Organisation, Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980. More than 1.4 billion adults were overweight in 2008, and more than half a billion obese. Currently, 2.8 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. The UK has one of the highest levels of obesity in western Europe: 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese.
2. Levels of childhood obesity are a huge concern – they are our future! 43 million children under 5 are overweight/obese globally. In the UK, 1 in 10 are obese when they start school, with rates highest in children from low-income homes. To add to this, 1 in 5 children (age 4-5) and 1 in 3 children (age 10-11) are classified overweight or obese.
3. Obese children are more likely to be ill. They are more likely to miss school, experience health-related limitations and require more medical care than normal weight children. Overweight children more are also more likely to become overweight adults and have a higher risk of morbidity, disability and premature mortality in adulthood. Obesity increases the risk of developing the following health problems in childhood (Public Health England, 2015):
- Type 2 diabetes (click this link to read more about diabetes in children)
- Asthma click each hyperlink to find out more
- Obstructive sleep apnoea (breathing becomes interrupted during sleep)
- Cardiovascular risk factors that affect heart health such as high cholesterol levels and high blood pressure
- Mental health disorders that include emotional and behavioural problems like depression or low self-esteem
- Musculoskeletal problems particularly knee and ankle pain which affect mobility.
4. More than half of men and women are at an increased risk of numerous serious health problems (summarised from Public Health England)
- An increased risk of osteoarthritis and low back pain.
- Cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure, heart attacks, stroke and thrombosis (blood clots)
- Type 2 diabetes. The number of people with diabetes has tripled worldwide since 1985. There are 3.2 million people who have been diagnosed with diabetes in the UK and it is ~175 million people have undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes (from Diabetes UK)
- Cancers. The Continuous Update Project and Second Expert Report has shown that body fatness is linked to an increased risk of developing 9 cancers.
- Reproductive and bladder problems such as stress incontinence, irregular periods and / or heavy, painful periods in women and infertility in both men and women. Obesity is also associated with more complicated pregnancies and births.
- An increased risk of asthma and sleep apnoea.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease where fatty deposits in the liver can lead to liver cirrhosis and even liver cancer.
- Obesity is associated with an increased risk of diseases of the digestive system – gastro-oesophageal reflux (heart burn) and gallstones for example.
- Psychological and social problems such as stress, low self-esteem, social disadvantage, depression and reduced libido.
5. Obesity can reduce life expectancy by 8-10 years. This is equivalent to the effects of lifelong smoking.
There are loads of links embedded in this post so you can easily click away and learn more about these health problems. Arming yourself with knowledge is so important in illness prevention, which is always better than cure.
I am also not saying that weight loss or weight management is dead easy. If it was, we wouldn’t have a problem. Obesity is determined by our genes, hormones, diet and lifestyle and the society we live in. It is very complicated! There are not always quick and easy solutions but if you need any convincing not to bury your head in the sand about it, I hope these facts have helped!
If you would like to read more about making successful changes to your eating habits, please read my blog on 7 ways to help you achieve your resolutions. The National Obesity Awareness Week have all sorts of information and help around healthy eating and physical activity. Take a look here. They have also teamed up with BBC Good food so there are lots of healthy recipes to try (also via the same link).