Obesity is defined as the abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat in the body that can have a negative impact on health. It is often possible to tell that you are overweight or obese just by the look but a better way is to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) based of the weight (in kilograms) and height (meters). A BMI of 30kg/m2 and above is considered obesity and below 18.5kg/m2 is underweight.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) obesity is a global epidemic and virtually all high and middle income countries are affected. The only remaining region is sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States of America more than a third (35.7%) of the adults is affected and approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2-19 years are obese according to Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In 2010 CDC report, it is indicated that the highest obesity rate (34.0%) was recorded in Mississippi and the lowest rates (21.0%) in Colorado. The states that had the highest rates were West Virginia (32.5%), Kentucky (31.3%), South Carolina (31.5%) and Missouri (30.5%). Those with the lowest obesity rates were Connecticut (22.5%), District of Columbia (22.2%) and Hawaii (22.7%). There rest had rates intermediate between these extremes.
Research done by Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) had the following findings; Non-Hispanic blacks had the highest rates of obesity (44.1%) compared with Mexican Americans (39.3%), all Hispanics (37.9%) and non-Hispanic whites (32.6%).
- Obesity and socioeconomic status
Non-Hispanic black and Mexican-American men with higher incomes are at a higher risk of developing obesity compared to those with low income. Women with higher income are less likely to be obese than those with low-income. There is no relationship between obesity and education among men but in women, lower educational level is associated with increased risk is increased.
Causes of obesity
- Increased calorie intake and reduced expenditure; when you take high calorie diets more energy will be available. If this energy not spent, it is converted into fat which is deposited in various tissues to causing obesity.
- Physical inactivity has well established association with obesity. Exercise helps burn the excess fat as it is used to provide energy for muscular contraction. If the physical inactivity is secondary to illness or injury, losing weight can be very challenging.
- Genetic predisposition; if there is history of obesity in your family you are at increased risk of developing obesity.
- Some diseases are inevitably associated with obesity such as Cushing syndrome and Diabetes Mellitus. Obesity of this kind is treated by correcting the underlying disease.
- Excessive intake of alcohol; especially at risk are those who take binge and beer (binge eating disorder –BED)
Obesity is a disease that affects 34 percent of the adult population aged over 20 years. It is also a fact that obesity is more common in women than men in the United States with 35.5% of women and 32.2% of men affected. Children too are affected.
Obesity is a well-recognized cause of some of the most dreaded diseases (hypertension, stroke, diabetes mellitus and cancer) in the world. Such diseases have high morbidity and mortality rate. This makes obesity a world epidemic and necessary steps should be taken to avert it.
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