Through this article, we discuss what exactly obesity is, its side effects and what you can do to live a healthier happier lifestyle.
Obesity is and has been for a long time, a hot topic. The statistics on obesity are startling… The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that global obesity rates have tripled since 1975. In 2016, it was estimated that 1.9 billion adults were overweight across the world, with a third of those being obese (this statistic rose to 2.1 billion in 2019). In that same year, 41 million children under 5 years of age were classified as overweight or obese. These statistics are concerning. But what is obesity, and what does it mean to be obese?
What is obesity?
Obesity (and being overweight) is defined by the WHO as “the abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health”. Obesity is traditionally measured using a person’s Body Mass Index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing their weight by their height (in metres) squared. A BMI which equates to 25 or over is classified as overweight… 30 or more equal obese. Due to the inability to distinguish gender and fat from muscle, the process is flawed. The Relative Fat Mass index (RFM) which takes into account someone’s gender, height and waist circumference is a more accurate tool in measuring someone’s fat mass and their risk of developing health problems from it.
Effects of obesity on the body
Now we know what obesity is, let’s explore what this means for the body. These are some of the known negative side effects of obesity:
• Increased risk of disease or even death: Unfortunately with obesity comes an increased risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, respiratory conditions including sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, gallstones, menstrual issues, incontinence, many types of cancer, and mental illness (e.g. depression). Being obese also puts you at an increased risk of death from all causes, but especially relating to cardiovascular disease (e.g. heart attack/failure).
• Complications during pregnancy: Mother and baby may both be at risk. Mothers have a higher likelihood of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes, as well as difficulties during labour. Retaining weight post-pregnancy may also pose a problem. For the baby, the risk of late fatal death increases, as does the risk for developing neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
• Increased levels of pain: Evidence suggests obesity puts the body in an inflammatory state which can cause pain. An increased load on the joints can lead to a breakdown of cartilage which drives more inflammation. There may also be an increased rate of depression which exacerbates the pain experience as well. People then become afraid to move through pain and being sedentary means a lack of movement through the joints, and they continue to degenerate. It can be a vicious cycle!
• Poor quality of life: Obesity can make life harder. Carrying out daily tasks can become tiresome. All of a sudden, hanging out the washing and cleaning the house or car can seem harder than it should. It can also affect people’s desire to go out and be social. Hygienically it can impact a person’s life as people who are obese also have a higher risk of developing undesirable body odour which can make social situations uncomfortable or embarrassing.
The Fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Our team of experienced Dietitians can work with you and your loved ones to develop a plan that best suits your needs.
It is sometimes overwhelming and challenging trying to lose weight but we are here to help you on your journey. We can work alongside your GP, or other health professionals, to work out what the best and safest option is for you – getting you on the right track to a healthier, happier self.
Don’t put it off any longer, book an appointment today!