Categorized | Obesity

The Dangers of Being Overweight

Is Obesity in America Totally Out of Control ?


Over the past two decades, physicians and public health policymakers have been warning us that obesity was rapidly approaching epidemic proportions in the US and much of the rest of the industrialized world. Alarmingly, it is now safe to say that obesity is no longer threatening to become a public health crisis – that day has already arrived.

Chubbiness in the United States has risen especially rapidly. In 2010, 35.7% of American adults (for the purposes of the US Center for Disease Control’s statistics, adults refers to individuals of at least 20 years of age) were obese. In the early 1960s, the percentage of adult Americans who were obese was around 13%; a nearly threefold increase over the course of five decades, a shocking statistic by anyone’s standards. It should be kept in mind that these statistics only include those individuals who are defined as obese, rather than merely overweight.

Before going any further, it’s useful to define the terms overweight and obese. Both terms are used in reference to an individual’s BMI (body mass index). A person with a BMI of 25 to 29 is said to be overweight, while those with a rating of 30 – 39 are said to be obese. Persons with an index of 40 or higher are considered morbidly obese; a BMI in this range is almost invariably a sign of not just having an extra large waistline, but an exceedingly poor state of health as well.


Your Overall Health Is At Risk

Obesity, as it is defined by medical professionals, refers to an accumulation of fat which has reached the point that it has an appreciable negative effect on an individual’s health. Weighing too much is associated with a lower life expectancy due to a significantly higher risk of diseases – which diseases? Take your pick: heart disease, asthma, osteoarthritis, many forms of cancer and type 2 diabetes, to name just the most serious of the illnesses which can result from packing on too many pounds.

To give you an idea of just how serious the problem is, literally hundreds of thousands of deaths every year can be ascribed to weight disorders in the United States alone. Excessive weight related illnesses are among the leading causes of death in the developed world; and along with smoking, it’s one of the most easily preventable of public health issues the world faces.


What are the Causes of Obesity?

Being overweight or obese may be due to any of a number of factors. In some individuals, excess weight may be due in part to genetic factors or endocrine system disturbances which impair the body’s natural abilities to regulate digestion and body weight. The side effects of some medications can also contribute to the dilemma.

However, these causes are decidedly in the minority as far as fatness in the United States and other industrialized nations are concerned. The largest factors by far are pretty much what you would expect: excess caloric intake and insufficient physical activity. It’s something that virtually everyone understands on some level – if you expend more calories through physical activity than you take in through your diet, you’ll lose weight. Conversely, if you take in more calories than you expend, you’ll gain weight, eventually leading to becoming overweight.

In a nutshell, this is what causes the problem. One of the main factors which has contributed to the failed diet epidemic is the increasingly sedentary lifestyle in modern industrialized societies. Technology has enabled us to spend our work days sitting at a desk – and our leisure time in front of our television sets and computer monitors, at the expense of our health. Combined with the ever more hectic and overscheduled lives that many of us lead, it’s become difficult for many people to make the time in their lives for the regular physical activity needed to stay trim.

Another factor which many look to as one of the causes of obesity is the diets which have become common in the west. Heavily processed foods have become an ever larger part of our eating habits. These calorie dense foods may be convenient, but they’re also often very high in fat, sodium and other unhealthy ingredients. Additionally, these less than ideal (to put it charitably) dietary options make it far too easy to consume many more calories per day than would be healthy for us, even assuming that the average person got a reasonable amount of physical activity on a regular basis. Combine this with a slower lifestyle and you have the ideal recipe for rapidly climbing mortality rates associated with being seriously overweight.


Is There a Solution to this Plumpness Epidemic?

There are in fact solutions : diet and exercise. As we already know and have discussed above, combating morbid obesity really is as simple as burning off more calories than we take in. Despite all the fad diets and diet products on the market, there is no panacea to weight loss; just a gold mine for marketers eager to make money from a public which is becoming aware of the dire health consequences of being overweight or obese and desperate for a quick fix.

Inability to lose weight or more accurately, diabetes, heart disease and other obesity-related diseases may be one of the leading causes of dying too young in the United States and other modern societies, but there is hope.

The best cure for the shockingly high rates of obesity is perhaps a concerted, sustained effort on the part of every nation facing this entirely preventable public health crisis. The more people know about the dangers of being too fat and the better their access to accurate information about health and nutrition, the better equipped all of us will be to start turning the tide and working towards a healthier society and ultimately, a healthier world.



About Ken Black

I am 55 years old, like to Golf, surf the Net, read Christian books and watch videos. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am also an author and publisher on the Web. Visit my Google Plus page at Google

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