We are under a global attack of lipids! They are the aliens within us, and they are fiercely fighting to take over the lives of everyone on the planet! They are relentlessly attacking us with their arch weaponry—the blubber-complex. Their mission is simple, obliterate earth with the blubber-complex until it becomes fatal. We need to regain control in other to defeat this archenemy to our health. The accretion of too much fat in the body is a medical condition associated with obesity. Overeating and physical inactivity are mostly the chief culprits. Obesity is one of the many increasing health problems in the world today. It poses a significant threat to the quality of life and health of millions of people worldwide. The time to stop obesity is now—no more procrastination.
“We struggle with eating healthily, obesity, and access to good nutrition for everyone. But we have a great opportunity to get on the right side of this battle by beginning to think differently about the way that we eat and the way that we approach food.” — Marcus Samuelsson.
Obesity affects individuals in all social strata. The battle over the bulge is real, and people in urban cities in Europe and America have the highest percentage of obese individuals. However, due to an economic growth explosion and an increasing middle class in developing countries, obesity is rising. Also, once considered a problem of the wealthy, obesity is now increasing in low-income and middle-income homes, particularly those in urban areas. Within the last two decades, governments worldwide have woken up to the need to curb the menace posed by this disease. Nations are now introducing measures that help with creating awareness of the causes and ways to manage them.
How to Measure Obesity
In a document on their web page, the Harvard School of Public Health highlights several ways of “Measuring Obesity.” I will not go all technical on you all by going into too much detail about each method but will call them out for emphasis. The most common and fundamental of all is the body mass index (BMI). The BMI measures the person’s weight in kilogram divided by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2). Other field methods like BMI used in clinics and various communal settings are waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, skinfold thicknesses, and bioelectrical impedance.
Concerning BMI, since it is the most basic, an adult BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese. For children and those in their teens (2-18years), the body fat content associated with a given BMI depends critically on the sex, age, race, and developmental stage of the child. Here are some instances, a BMI Classification of <18.5 kg/m2 shows an increased health risk for the person (NB. The person might be bulimic). Normal BMI is between 18.5-24.9 kg/m2. The health risk begins to build when someone falls within the ranges of 25.0-29.9 kg/m2—the person is classified as overweight. Scales between 30.0-34.9 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 1, and the health risks are high. Ranges between 35.0-39.9 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 2, and the health risks are very high. Finally, series >40 kg/m2 are classified as Obese Class 3, and the health risks become notably high. The information presented here is very insightful.
As further presented in the Harvard School of Public Health document on their webpage highlights several ways of “Measuring Obesity,” we have some other methods of measuring obesity that is a little bit more complicated than just fundamental. These methods are classified as “reference measurement”-techniques. Some of these methods are as follows: Underwater Weighing (Densitometry); Air-Displacement Plethysmography; Dilution Method (Hydrometry); Dual Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DEXA), and Computerized Tomography (CT) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). For more information, be sure to visit the Harvard School of Public Health website to gain more information on these techniques.
Obesity Prevalence Fast Facts
In this section of this article, let us look at some common facts about obesity from a global and domestic perspective from other sources. Global research by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
Global research by the World Health Organization (WHO) on the prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. Here were some facts from this study in 2016: (a). More than 1.9 billion overweight adults (i.e., >18 years). 650 million of them were obese. (b). 39% of adults (i.e., >18 years)—39% of men and 40% of women—were overweight. (c). 13% of the world’s adult population—11% of men and 15% of women—were obese. (d). 124 million children and adolescents (5-19 years)—6% of girls and 8% of boys—were obese.1
In November 2015, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) published a National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data report with facts that would make anyone cringe. Some of the conclusions in this survey were as follows: (a). More than 17% of U.S. youths were obese. (b). Obesity was higher among women (38.3%) than men (34.3%). (c). There was more obesity amongst middle-aged (40.2%) and older (37.0%) when compared to younger (32.3%) adults. (d). Obesity was prevalent among non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, and Hispanic adults and youth than among non-Hispanic Asian adults and youths.2
Causes of Obesity
Various factors contribute directly or indirectly to people becoming obese. Some of these factors are as follows:
First, the energy imbalance between calorie intake and calories expended is the leading cause of obesity. Many people eat much unhealthier food on the fly with little or no exercise, leading to obesity. It is much easier to gain a pound than to lose it.
Second, having an eating disorder or an unhealthy binge-eating pattern. For instance, the increased intake of energy-dense foods (e.g., junk foods—high cholesterol foods) that are high in fat can lead to obesity.
“Europeans fought for shorter workdays, more vacation time, family leave, and all these kinds of things. Those haven’t been priorities in America: it’s been about money. You see, in the countries that fought for time, they cook more often; they have less obesity. There are real benefits to having time.” — Michael Pollan.
Third, a spike in physical inactivity. The factor of physical inactivity stemming from more stationary work modes, switching modes of commute (e.g., switching from riding a bicycle to work to drive more, catching the bus or train removes the physical activity element), and increasing urbanization can lead to more obesity.
Fourth, some medical conditions can cause obesity. For instance, Hypothyroidism (i.e., low production of the thyroid hormone that helps with metabolism); Cushing’s syndrome (i.e., excess cortisol production leads to lipid accumulation); and depression.
Furthermore, from a medical perspective, taking some prescription medications, chiefly steroids, certain antidepressants, antipsychotics, high blood pressure medications, and seizure medications, could cause obesity.
Consequences of Obesity
Obesity widely affects the social, medical, and economic spheres of people’s lives. It diminishes the health and psychosocial well-being as well as socioeconomic prospects of affected individuals and populations. From a psychosocial perspective, for instance, people that are obese have low self-esteem. Because of how they look, they may find it difficult to build meaningful social relationships and connections. We live in an age that idolizes people that have a very slim physique. Because of this, people who are obese find it difficult to fit into society. Sometimes, they also run into difficulty finding clothing that fits them. However, this variation is being fixed by clothing lines springing up that are dedicated to plus-size people.
Still dwelling on the psychosocial effects, children who are obese face a hard time in their early school years. They often become reclusive or become overly combative as they face the stigma of other students taunting them and calling them names. For those that become reclusive, they are warding off this hostility by keeping to themselves. Some resort to fighting as their social mechanism for fighting off such resentment and bullying. This condition lands these kids into the quagmire of solitude and depression. In some cases, the aftermath has become deadly as some people go down a very dark path and even take their own lives in the process—a sorry state that is not advisable, to say the very least. Society must stand against this hostility and abuse and find ways to help these overweight or obese individuals.
From a socioeconomic perspective, being obese can also be devastating. For instance, when you are morbidly obese, some organizations will saliently deny you of a certain level of life insurance benefit. They will allow the overweight person to have the basic life insurance package they offer to everyone else in the same organizational strata as that individual. However, some of these organizations will saliently opt-out of approving any higher life insurance benefits for these individuals. Organizations will not accept this upfront to prevent discriminatory lawsuits. However, they are doing this to circumvent having to pay a premium life insurance package payout in the advent of a loss of life of the overweight or morbidly obese person. So, in an age of versatile techno-economic advancement and organizational adventure and dynamism, to be overweight is a competitive disadvantage.
Still dwelling on the socioeconomic effects, being obese lowers the economic productivity of the workforce. In past leadership and management positions that I have held, I have seen the impact of obesity on lowering productivity. For instance, on many occasions, people who have better body weight are nimbler in getting work done at a faster pace. Many overweight or obese individuals tend to work slower, which reduces productivity, especially in a task-driven culture. On some rare occasions, I have seen some overweight people move at a faster pace than those who have better body weight. Everyone is different—different strokes for different folks. However, the bottom line of this fact is that obesity lowers the productivity of the workforce on many occasions. Because of this, some human resource teams and recruiters may saliently reject obese talent for those who have an average body structure.
There are health risk consequences of obesity. The English language-idiom stipulates that “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and the picture above this paragraph highlights some of the health conditions that obesity could cause. Obesity can contribute to decreased longevity and increased disability. Being obese could also lead to death. Do you know that being overweight can lead to individuals developing a cardiovascular condition, stroke, diabetes, and some types of malignancy or cancer that can lead to premature death? For instance, I have heard of situations where people lost their lives because of being morbidly obese. When you are overweight and obese, your body structure and functionality begin to depreciate. Is dying prematurely due to obesity worth it? That is for me to state and for the reader to consider. Obese and overweight individuals need to rethink and start changing their behaviors before it is too late.
Obesity is associated with over 40 medical conditions. Apart from Diabetes (Type 1 and 2) and cardiovascular diseases, people that are obese suffer from “sleep debt,”—which is the cumulative effect of not getting enough sleep. Extended sleep debt can lead to physical and mental fatigue. Obesity is also known to cause sleep apnea (i.e., sleep-disordered breathing that causes interruptions in breathing during sleep, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain). People that are obese also have musculoskeletal disorders (e.g., osteoarthritis, degenerative disease of the joints, etc.). The types of malignancy or cancers that obesity could cause are endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon cancers. Obesity could also cause disability in adulthood, respiratory insufficiency, hypertension, stroke, etc. Obesity in children or adults could result in premature death. Having low self-esteem is an early marker of the psychological effect of obesity.
12 Possible Ways of Fighting Obesity
From all that we have seen in this article, we can all agree that the bulge’s battle is fierce. From the facts above, it may seem that the Lipids are winning the war and may have the upper hand in the campaign; however, we have the will and the freedom to fight back fiercely to regain our lean and beneficial independence! The mission of this editorial is to stimulate readers who are overweight, obese, and living an unhealthy lifestyle to have a rethink and change their habits. Fight back and win the battle of the bulge. Many people reading who are suffering from this condition must be asking, “How do we fight obesity?” How can we win this battle and make a U-turn towards a better and healthier lifestyle?
A healthy diet and physical exercise are the two principal ways of combating obesity. Once you can regulate what you eat, the amounts of such foods that consume, and adding regulated physical activity to your daily routine; you are then on the right path to fighting obesity. Remember, you are what you eat! The following steps are essential in gaining the upper hand in the fight against obesity:
First, you need to get in the habit of consuming low energy-dense or high-calorie foods. It is easier to gain one pound than to do what it takes to lose it. So, it will be in your best interest to cut the habit completely today or at least reduce your indulgence in such foods.
Second, you will need to lower your consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Sugar has the power to instigate you to eat more, burn fewer calories, and get fat in the process. So, do yourself a favor and cut down on the soda and other excessive sweet drinks.
Third, you will need to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables. They contain fiber and have low energy density. Fruits are a minor source of fructose for the diet. Excess consumption of fructose can be very deadly to your health.
Fourth, increasing the initiation and duration of exclusive breastfeeding of infants will help nursing mothers lose weight. You naturally burn calories while producing milk for breastfeeding. For nursing women, this could be a way to lose weight.
Fifth, you will need to increase physical activity across your lifespan. As you age, your body tends to slow down its activity levels. It would be best if you made a deliberate attempt to stay physically active. Be intentional about it—hit the gym, go for a walk—do something.
Sixth, still on a physical activity perspective, you need to institute a routine of exercising at least 15-20 minutes daily. Making this a habit will make you stay healthy and stay in shape. Start small, and as you build stamina, you can increase your duration.
Seventh, make sure that you drink plenty of water. Water is 100% calorie-free and can assist in burning calories. If consumed before meals, it can help suppress appetite. 4–8 Glasses (8-oz) is adequate. Please don’t overdo it, though, to prevent water toxicity.
Eight, you need to avoid excessive alcohol intake and smoking. Quitting altogether is the best option, in my opinion. Excessive alcohol intake could lead to excess calories required by the body. Some studies say that smoking increases pesky abdominal or visceral fat.
Ninth, there must be an augmented societal response to the causes and conditions of obesity. For instance, society should collectively assist in reducing the stigma and discrimination towards obesity. Society should motivate, not destroy.
Tenth, there needs to be an increased development and dissemination of guidelines for society’s physical education standards. For instance, all schools need to adopt a rooted regime towards sports and other physical activities. Check out 10 Reasons Why Sports Should Be a Requirement in Schools.
Eleventh, some people resort to surgery. For instance, in some extreme cases, some people resort to liposuction to remove excess adipose tissues. Sometimes this can be successful; sometimes, this could be fatal. However, it is better not to get to this stage in the first place.
Twelfth, some people resort to taking medications. For instance, some people fight obesity by using over the counter and prescription slimming medications—which may or may not be successful. However, a focus on exercise and diet is a healthier option for weight loss.
Exit from the State of Obesity! Enter the State of the Physically Fit! For overweight or borderline obese individuals, this should be your mission and goal towards weight loss and self-transformation. The problem of obesity is primarily a mental thing. If you are overweight or obese, you need to recondition your mind and believe that you can make a core transformation of your life. You need to come to a point where you make a hardcore decision to change the habits that lead you towards a downward spiral regarding your weight and health. In this article, you have seen the causes, consequences, and health risks attributed to obesity. You have also seen how you can fight this battle. What more will you ask for? As we said earlier, your health is your wealth. Let me also say this, “Your weight is your wealth. A good weight assures good health. In turn, good health can assure great wealth.” It is senseless to continue the downward spiral that could take you prematurely six feet under the dirt. The ball is now in your court, and you could make a hundred and eighty degrees turn and start heading towards the upward direction of good health.
“In our fast-forward culture, we have lost the art of eating well. Food is often little more than fuel to pour down the hatch while doing other stuff – surfing the Web, driving, walking along the street. Dining al desko is now the norm in many workplaces. All of this speed takes a toll. Obesity, eating disorders and poor nutrition are rife.” — Carl Honore.
A word is enough for the wise. So be wise and begin to change your mindset. You can become healthy. You can shed those extra pounds of weight. You can shift yourself to your best physical self ever. You have seen all the weight-loss strategies that have been stipulated in this article. Choose a method or two and begin your resistance against the lipid insurgency that is increasing your waistline. Get to exercising, get to dieting. Cut your appetite for excess calories before it cuts your life short. Don’t forget; you are what you eat. Also, add this byline to it, “You become what you eat.” In other words, if you consume excess calories uninhibitedly, then you will become a visible bank of blubber. Believe that you can, and you will become healthy again. With faith and concerted actions, you can make your dreams of a complete body transformation a total reality. Don’t let obesity master you—become the master of obesity as you shed that excess weight. Trust me; you will love your new you after you do. Don’t let the Lipids leap up in victory and win. Brace yourself for the fight and cultivate the will to win the battle of the bulge.
- World Health Organization [WHO]. (2018). Obesity and overweight. Retrieved from www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight
- Center of Disease Control [CDC]. National Center for Health Statistics. (2015). Prevalence of obesity among adults and youth: United States, 2011–2014. C L. Ogden, M. D. Carroll, C. D. Fryar, & K .M. Flegal (Eds). (No. 219). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db219.pdf