Obesity isn’t going away… It is widely visible yet still under tackled. And the question is what are we going to do about it?
Some of the facts:
- Approximately 2.1 billion people (30% of the planet) are overweight or obese (as stated in a 33 year-long study published in the Lancet Medical Journal)
- The worldwide prevalence of obesity more than doubled between 1980 and 2014
- If nothing is done to reverse the epidemic, more than 1 billion adults are projected to be obese by 2030
- 700,000 NHS staff classed as overweight or obese were told to shed their excess pounds in order to be a good example to patients (UK)
- The rate of obesity in children ages 6-11 increased from 6.5 to 19.6 percent between the years 1980 and 2008
- Medical experts claimed overweight Britons could be costing the health service £30 billion a year despite successive campaigns to educate people about healthy eating and exercise
- At the turn of the 20th century, people were eating mostly simple, home-cooked meals. By 2009 about half of what people ate was fast food, or other foods away from home
- All segments of the population are affected by obesity
And so the stats go on, each concerning and highlighting the need to truly educate people on health; prevention is and always has been better than cure.
What is the impact on health being overweight or obese?
- Being overweight leaves people more vulnerable to a host of health problems all of which place further strain on NHS resources, including Type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, strokes and some forms of cancer
- Daily activities become a chore and a burden. Whether it is looking after self or children, the things most of us take for granted, becomes hard work; getting dressed, bathing, travelling to/from work, picking up children, going shopping and so on
- It increases the likelihood of a person suffering from depression and dementia
- It can cause heartburn and urinary incontinence
- It can kill. It is estimated that up to 400,000 deaths a year in the EU are caused by overweight-related illnesses
If you have ever carried a few extra pounds you know how uncomfortable that can feel. Now imagine an excessive amount of body weight to carry and you can begin to imagine the struggle people are experiencing and how that affect them emotionally, mentally and physically. The cure is not just putting people on scales then telling them what to eat and what exercise to do; the approach needs to be holistic.
What are we going to do about it?
Educating people around health is vital and includes understanding:
- Why certain foods are craved and how to manage those cravings (food content including sugar, fat and the different calorie values)
- The mental challenges that go hand in hand with eating and how to become the master of their thinking (take control)
- How emotions impact food choices and how by journaling emotions to see where triggers lie they can make small daily changes to a healthier life
- Exercise is one part of a healthy lifestyle and not as effective as eating a balanced diet (the two work beautifully together!)
- A healthy balanced diet is not about having to eat lots of boring or expensive foods (myths!)
- Getting healthy is much more fun when done with others. The support and reduction in feeling ‘I’m the only one’ is priceless
We can bring about change together. The more we understand and pay attention to what we eat, the better. Leaving it to the food industry is NOT the way to go. Learning to read food labels, reading informative and well researched articles and making a decision to put health first is! I highly recommend the library of excellent articles available at http://thehealthsciencesacademy.org along with their courses. You won’t be disappointed!