OBESITY- THE NEW GLOBAL EPIDEMIC

Food, food, everywhere with loads of carbs (carbohydrates) to eat!!! Yes, this is the main culprit causing increasing rates of obesity globally, not only in adults, but also in children. Excessive consumption of easily available low-cost convenience foods (mainly, fats and sugars) that are laden with high levels of carbs, lack of exercise and/or physical activity makes the body store excess energy as fats. This fat accumulation hinders the work of multiple organs in the body such as pancreas and liver while causing serious health problems.

Obesity cascades down to many health issues such as insulin resistance – leading to pre-diabetes and later stages diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancers, poly-cystic ovarian syndrome, and infertility. In addition, difficulty in performing day-to-day activities, low self-esteem, and depression are few psychological issues associated with obesity.    

According to World Health Organisation (WHO, 2018), the problem of “worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975”. Interestingly, the new epidemic is not seen in economically developed countries as thought, but found in underdeveloped countries where higher cost for healthy food and food shortage are major contributory factors (World Population Review, 2019).  Pacific-island nations such as Nauru, Samoa and Tonga have got the tag of “most obese nations” (World Population Review, 2019). For example, Nauru has nearly 60% of its population in obese category.

India is fast catching up with China as the most populous country. India is expected to overtake China as the most populous nation by 2050. The obesity rates too are on rise. On a global scale, India is in the top five fattest nations with US leading the race followed by Australia (World Population Review, 2019). However, industrialisation (industrial revolution 4.0), sedentary life-style, and access to quicker and cheaper but unhealthy foods are expected to push India to first position!

The measure to recognise abdominal obesity is waist to hip ratio (that is, waist measurement / hip measurement). A healthy ratio for women is 0.8 or less whereas for men it is 0.9 or less (WHO, 2019). The most common measure, BMI (Body Mass Index) global cut off is 25, but for Asian countries the cut off is 23. The reason quoted is Asians have weight related disease risks at even lower BMI value. Asians tend to store more abdominal fat compared to European counterparts. Even with BMI in the normal range, people who carry more fat around abdomen (called as apple shaped obesity) are at higher risk of diabetes and heart related ailments.

The obesity scenario is no different in children and is on rise at alarming rates. The awareness and education has to start early in life, if at all this problem has to be tackled effectively.  The World Obesity Day campaign was started in the year 2015 to tackle this global epidemic in terms of creating awareness, prevention and finding solutions to help minimise the ill effects.  The World Obesity Day is observed on 11th of October every year across the globe. Let us not forget the famous themes of World Obesity Federation, that is, “Treat obesity now, and avoid consequences later” (2017), and “End Weight Stigma” (2018).

As the saying goes “we are, what we eat”, one needs to understand that the steering wheel is in our hands and there is no better time to take control of our health.

We at Chinmayi Research and Consulting would be happy to assist all those who want to be free from obesity and its consequences. We regularly conduct supermarket tours to cut through confusing health claims, fad diets and misleading nutrition advice. Discover how to make best choices. Please get in touch with us to have a thorough consultation.

 

Ms Mamata A H

Consulting Dietitian & Nutritionist 

Chinmayi Research and Consulting