Since 1980 the number of obese people around the world has more than doubled. WHO estimated that in 2014 more than 1.9 billion adults were overweight or obese, and the number is still rising. As a matter of fact overweight and obesity are now linked to more deaths worldwide than underweight and hunger…
What is obesity?
“Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that may impair health.”
Body Mass Index (BMI) is Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index that is commonly used to classify whether an adult is underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese. The BMI is defined as the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in metres (kg/m2).
The results fall into the following categories for adults:
Underweight: BMI < 18.50
Normal weight: BMI 18.50 – 24.99
Overweight: BMI 25 – 29.99
Obese: BMI > 30
The above ratios are valid for both men and women. But it is important to be aware that the BMI does not take into consideration the fact that different people have different builds (for example, muscles weigh more than fat, so a strong bodybuilder would probably fall into the overweight or obese range, even though he/she has a very low body fat percentage. Thicker/bigger bones also weigh more than smaller bones etc.) Therefore it is always a good idea to consult your doctor, and get a professional evaluation of your weight. They should also look at your waist circumference, body fat percentage etc. in order to get the full picture of your body.
And what does overweight and obesity do to you?
There are actually quite a few health consequences of overweight and obesity, and some of them can be very severe. A high BMI increases the risks of:
- Cardiovascular disease (mainly heart disease and strokes)
- Osteoarthritis (a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints) and other musculoskeletal disorders
- Some cancer types (for example breast cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, liver cancer, kidney cancer and colon cancer)
- Back pains and knee problems
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased cholesterol
- Decreased sleep quality
This is just to mention some of the physical health risks of overweight and obesity. But a high BMI can also take its toll both mentally and socially.
But why do we get more and more overweight?
Of course there are various reasons for the increase in overweight and obesity worldwide. But basically it comes down to the balance between calorie intake and calorie spend. If your intake is higher than your spend, then your weight will increase. And if your intake is lower than your spend, then your weight will go down. So it is all about balance!
The global evolution has resulted in an increased intake of energy-dense foods that have a high amount of fat and calories. Moreover people today are more inactive than earlier generations because of changing modes of transportation, increased urbanization, inactive work forms etc. This is quite a bad combination, because we then end up with an increase in our calorie intake and a decrease in calorie spend, which as mentioned above will result in weight gain.
So what can we do about it?
So what can we do about it?
The good news is, overweight and obesity are preventable! So luckily there is something we can do about it…
A supportive environment is fundamental! The surroundings are a big influence, so by making it easier for people to make healthy food choices and be physically active on a regular basis, governments can do a lot to help their inhabitants. Simply by making healthy choices accessible, available and affordable.
But the most important factor is the individual itself. A few simple steps will have a huge impact:
- Limit your energy intake from fat and sugar. Avoid junk-food, candy, alcohol, sodas, cakes, chips etc.
- Eat lots of vegetables and legumes, and 1-3 pieces of fruit everyday
- Go for whole grains, when choosing bread, rice, pasta etc.
- Eat lots of fish and some lean white meat from poultry
- Drink lots of water, minimum 6 glasses a day
- Cut down on coffee, drink maximum 2-3 cups a day
- Get moving – engage in regular physical activity, for at least 30 minutes a day
Did you know?
- That worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980?
- That once considered a high-income country problem, overweight and obesity are now on the rise in low- and middle-income countries as well, particularly in urban settings.
- That more people in the world are suffering from overweight and obesity than from hunger?
- That people who regularly eat dinner or breakfast in restaurants double their risk of becoming obese? So prioritize healthy home-made meals instead of take-aways and restaurant food.
- That you would have to walk for about 7 hours in order to burn off a big burger with coke and fries?
- That obesity can cause you to lose sleep? On the other hand, lack of sleep can cause obesity…
- That french fries have 311 calories per 100 grams, but green beans only have 31 calories per 100 grams. So you can eat 1 kg of green beans and still get fewer calories than if you ate 100 grams of fries…