Obesity: a Growing Epidemic

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Obesity: a Growing EpidemicObesity – the health crisis that is sweeping industrialized nations – is already the largest source of certain chronic diseases in countries like the U.S. And unless something changes, the future looks grim, indeed.

Obesity Defined

Obesity is a condition in which a person has excess body fat. In general, a person who is thirty pounds overweight is considered to be obese and about 30% of the population fall into that category. Another 35% of the population is overweight. This means that a person weighs at least 10% more than their ideal weight based on height and build.

To put the numbers in perspective, it helps to take a look at some historical statistics. In 1980, only one out of ten Americans adults was overweight or obese. And obesity is not only epidemic among adults, but children are being affected as well. Since 1980, childhood obesity has doubled for children ages 10 and under and tripled for teens.

Facts about Obesity

Aside from rare cases, obesity is caused by eating a high-calorie foods and leading a sedentary lifestyle. Here are some interesting facts surrounding obesity.

• Overweight individuals are highly prone to developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.

• Obesity is directly linked to upwards of 400,000 deaths in the U.S each year.

• Experts attribute the 30% increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes over the last two decades to obesity.

• It is predicted that in 20 years about half of Medicare expenses will be used to treat diseases that are directly related to obesity.

• One third of the children born today will develop diabetes at some point in their lifetime

The U.S. Surgeon General reports that, at present, two out of three people are either overweight or obese. The modern “fast food” diet consisting of an overconsumption of high-fat, calorie-laden food is the main culprit. Following closely behind is the lack of exercise. It’s ironic that in most cases, obesity and, by extension, the diseases directly linked to obesity are easily prevented or reversed by simply altering these two lifestyle factors.

 

References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2012). Overweight and Obesity.

Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Flegal KM. Prevalence of obesity in the United States, 2009-2010. NCHS data brief, no 82. Hyattsville, MD: National Center for Health Statistics. 2012.

 

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