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Obesity Epidemic in the West

Obesity is one of the most visible of chronic health conditions and has become an epidemic today. Between half and two-thirds of men and women in 63 countries across five continents – not including the US – were overweight or obese in 2006. (Overweight is BMI > 25 , obese is BMI > 30).

Obesity Comparison by Country

What is obesity?

A person is considered obese when his or her weight is 20% or more above the normal weight. Those who have a BMI over 30 are said to be obese, and those with a BMI of 40 or more are called morbidly obese, that is, their weight severely interferes with their health.

How do people become obese?
Obesity, in most cases, is because of excessive and uncontrolled eating and very little or no physical activity. However, there could be some other responsible factors too, like:

  • Age. With age, the body metabolizes food slowly.
  • Gender. Women tend to be more overweight than men.
  • Genetics. Obesity could run in families
  • Psychological reason. People experiencing negative emotions like boredom, sadness, or anger tend to eat in excess.
  • Illness. Certain conditions like hypothyroidism, depression, and some rare brain diseases can make people overeat.
  • Medication. Steroids and some anti-depressants may cause excessive weight gain.

What health problems can obesity lead to?

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Dyslipidemia
  • Hyperinsulinemia, insulin resistance, glucose intolerance
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Angina pectoris
  • Cholecystitis
  • Cholelithiasis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Gout
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Sleep apnea and other respiratory problems
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Fertility complications
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Psychological disorders
  • Uric acid nephrolithiasis (kidney stones)
  • Stress urinary incontinence
  • Cancer of the kidney, endometrium, breast, colon and rectum, esophagus, prostate and gall bladder
  • Death


How can obesity be treated?

Conservative methods of treating obesity like exercising and dieting should always be tried first. Patients will need to be committed to their exercise schedule and diet plans for a significant period of time before they expect results. Such health programs should never be abandoned after the first round of weight loss as weight can come back right away.

Weight loss surgery should be the last resort in the fight against obesity, because any surgery comes with risks and side-effects.

Obesity needs a concerted effort from not only the obese individual but his/her family and friends. And the sooner obesity treatment starts, the better, as it takes a long time for people to lose weight.

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