What is obesity and overweight?
The word ‘Overweight’ can be used in two different ways. Sometimes it is referred to someone who is heavy. Other times, it is used when a someone is in between normal weight and obesity. Overweight and obesity can be defined as the accumulation of excessive or abnormal fat that may likely affects one’s health.
Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple index of weight-for-height used commonly to differentiate between overweight and obesity in adults. It can be defined as the weight of a person in kilograms divided by the square of the person’s height in meters (kg/m2). For an overweighed person, the BMI is 25 or above. An obese person, the BMI is 30 or above.
Causes of obesity and overweight
The main cause of obesity and overweight is when the energy between the calories consumed and the calories expended is imbalanced. On a global level, there has been:
• an increase in the intake of energy-dense foods thatgives high fat and sugars; and
• an increase in the rate of physical inactivity because of the increase in sedentary nature of the different types of work, different modes of transportation and increase in urbanization.
• lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing, and education.
Common health consequences for overweight and obese people includes:
An increase in BMI is a one of the major risk factors for some noncommunicable diseases like:
• heart disease and/or stroke (cardiovascular diseases);
• musculoskeletal disorders (majorly osteoarthritis – a disease that disables and degenerate the joints);
• some cancers this includes breast, endometrial, ovarian prostrate, gallbladder, colon and kidney.
The higher the BMI, the higher the risk of having these noncommunicable diseases.
Children with obesity have higher chance of having breathing difficulties, fractures, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, disability, psychological effects, andmay even die prematurely.
Also, double-burden of malnutrition which occurs majorly in low-income and middle-income countries also causes overweight and obesity.
• These countries deal with infectious disease and undernutrition, while the issue of noncommunicable disease like obesity and overweight is growing rapidly under their nose.
• Most places where undernutrition exist, obesity also exist.
Children in most low- and middle-income countries face the issue of malnutrition especially during pre-natal, infancy, and young childhood. These children eat meals that have high fat, sugar, salt, energy-dense, and micronutrient-poor foods which are lower in cost and nutrient quality. Compound with this, they tend to engage in low physical activity thus increasing childhood obesity.
Ways of reducing Obesity and Overweight
Overweight and obesity, and other noncommunicable diseases, can be prevented. When an individual has a Supportive environment and community, the person’s choice will be better shaped and they will make better choice when it comes diet, and physical activity thereby preventing overweight and obesity.
At the individual level, people can:
• limit energy intake from total fats and sugars;
• increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts; and
• engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread through the week for adults).
The food industry can be of help by sensitizing the important role healthy diets plays and doing the following;
• reducing the amount fat, sugar and salt in processed foods;
• ensuring healthy and nutritious choices are affordable and available to everyone. that healthy and nutritious choices are available and affordable to all consumers;
• stop the marketing of foods that are high in sugars, salt and fats, majorly the ones that are for children and teenagers, and
• supporting people exercising regularly in workplaceand at home.
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