Adult and childhood obesity has grown drastically over the last few decades. It is being blames on a more sedentary lifestyle especially in the urban areas. Every aspect of life has been affected by the recent changes, such as use of a car instead of walking, use of the media or internet instead of an active social participation for all adults, and time spent in front of television or computer for children instead of being outside and indulging in sports or games.
Both these age groups have also shown a remarkable growth in consumption of packaged foods or higher calorie count meals instead of a simpler and healthier choice of vegetables, meat and fruits.
The aggressive growth of junk foods like chips/crisps, ice-creams, sodas or cold drinks, or food chains like MacDonald, KFC, etc. has given rise to unhealthy food habits. Consumption of alcohol has also risen which many consider to be nothing but empty calories.
How Obesity Is Determined
Obesity is now not just linked to adults but also children, even infants. It has been calculated using the Body Mass Index regulator which compares the height to weight ratio and also measures the amount of fat cells in the body.
A BMI above 25 is adjudged as overweight and above 30 defines obesity. It has been said that both being overweight and obese are caused by a basic “caloric imbalance”, that is, consumption of more calories than what is being spent and it is affected by behavioural, psychological, environmental and psychological factors.
The situation is dire for obese people as they are in direct risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, including chronic ailments and increases the chances of getting a stroke. In the year 2008, it was the leading cause of death.
Diabetes and musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis wherein the joints become highly disables is also caused by obesity. Even some cancers such as thyroid, breast, colon and endometrial is caused by obesity.
These problems are found in adult obesity. Children encounter a whole different set of problems like premature death in infants, breathing difficulties, hypertension, increased fracture risk, beginnings of cardiovascular problems and early diabetes, as well as many psychological effects.
Obesity Facts And Figures
According to a WHO report, since 1980, the figures of worldwide obesity have doubled from 15% to 30%.
More than 2/3 of U.S. adults are overweight or obese in 2014.
According to Ogden, et al, the prevalence of obesity in the US is staggering, with 68.5% of people who are either overweight or obese and 6.4% are extremely obese with a BMI of 40 or greater.
According to research published in the American Journal Of Public Health, obesity related conditions account for approximately 18% of all deaths in the United States, a number that is three times greater than previous estimates.
The Healthy Americans website reports that more than ¼ of health care costs are caused by obesity related conditions.
The World Health Organization reports that 44% of diabetes, 23% of heart disease and between 7% and 41% of specific cancers are attributed to obesity and overweight.
The staggering statistics point to the fact that 3.4 million people die each year due to being overweight or obese. In over 65% of the world’s nations, obesity causes more deaths than being underweight.
Look at this infographic on Adult Obesity
As far as children are concerned, the situation is even worse. The Center For Disease Control reports that in the year 2012, overweight or obesity extended to over 1/3 of the population of children. In fact, where obesity among adults has just doubled in adults since 1980, it has quadrupled in adolescents and also more than doubled in children in the past 30 years.
31.8% of adolescents and children are either overweight or obese and of that 31.8%, 16.9% are obese.
And, ¼ of 2 to 5 year old children and 1/3 of school age children are either overweight or obese in the United States.
The Center for Disease Control reports that 30.4% of low-income home preschool age children are either overweight or obese, this is primarily attributed to the fact that unhealthy convenience foods tend to be cheaper than healthy ones.
From 1980 till 2012, the number of obese children in the US between the ages of 6-11 increased from 7% to 18%. Amongst adolescents between the age group of 12-19 years, the percentage increased from 5% to 21%.
Most shockingly, studies have shown that in the year 2011, over 40 million children under the age of five were overweight.
Look at this infographic on Childhood Obesity
Impact on Children’s Health
It is reported that nearly 3,700 children and adolescents under the age of 20 are diagnosed with preventable Type 2 diabetes as a result of obesity each and every year. By 2050, the number of teen diabetics will increase by nearly 50% to more than 84,000. 45% of children diagnosed with type 2 diabetes also had hypertension, 3% developed kidney disease and 9% died from their condition within nine years of initial diagnosis.
There are other conditions related to obesity that affect kids, including, heart disease, high blood pressure asthma and sleep apnea.
Obesity Rates By State
Montana had the lowest obesity rates in the United States falling in at 19.6% in 2013.
Colorado comes in second with the lowest rates of obesity at 20.4%. Nevada comes in third with the lowest rates at 21.1%.
Mississippi had the highest rates of obesity with 35.4% in 2013.
Additionally, the states with the highest obesity rates also had the highest numbers of chronic disease.
In fact, 35.8% percent of Americans who live in the 10 most obese states have high blood pressure (compared to 26.4% in states with lowest obesity rates), and 28.2% have high cholesterol (5% higher than seen in states with lowest obesity rates).
Additionally, depression rates in those states is 20.7%, diabetes rates are at 14.3% and those with cancer account for 7.8%. Also, the heart attack rates in the states with the highest obesity rates is 5%.
Of those who reside in the least obese states 67% reported eating a healthy diet regularly and 59.6% stated they eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. And, 56% reported doing at least 3o minutes of exercise 3 days per week.
However, the good news is that obesity is curable. Unlike many other risk factors in human health, obesity can be checked by following a proper diet and exercise. As a last resort, even surgery could be employed for dealing with obesity. Yet, the best way forward is to lead a more active and healthy life from a young age and continue it in adulthood.