There is no mystery in the fact that obesity is on the rise in the Western World. Over the past few decades we’ve had mega trends in place that exacerbate the problem. At the work place much of the work is done by computers and machines. This means sitting for up to eight hours either doing computer work or monitoring machines that do the work for you. Sitting for long periods destroys your stomach muscles and lets the fat gather at your midriff. Letting machines do the work does not actively engage the worker to do physical operations. At home with both partners working, “take out” is the norm. Pizza is a leading favorite with all of its cheese and bread. Eating out is now more popular. Restaurants compete to give you the largest portions. The Smartphone and Facebook have made us more social, again with less physical exercise. Only a small, dedicated few will sign up for regular gym activities and watch their diet.
The economic cost of obesity is staggering. The National League of Cities, Institute for Youth and Education for Families has presented data on the added cost to individuals and the nation as a whole stemming from obesity. Here are some startling facts:
Children related illnesses from obesity are estimated at a cost of $190.2 billion or 21% of our annual medical expenses.
Childhood obesity will contribute $14 billion in direct medical costs.
Obesity is found as a cause for other diseases. The estimated cost is $50 million per 100,000 residents.
Among children we find obesity is affecting 23.5 million ages 2-19. The numbers tend to be higher for Hispanics and blacks with 39% obese. If you were born in 2000 and are obese, chances are that 1/3rd of the boys and 2 out of 5 girls will develop Type 2 diabetes.
Obesity contributes to several major diseases including heart disease and stroke, higher blood pressure, asthma and some cancers.
High Blood Pressure is the leading cause of death. The added weight from obesity affects 75 million persons and will increase the chance of death among obese persons age 25 or older.
This is a real shocker. 90% of overweight persons are prone to Type 2 diabetes.
Cancer. Overweight persons are 50% more liable to have cancer.
Bank Pain. This is a common occurrence in overweight persons. The extra weight can injure the spine and cause other more serious problems such as osteoporosis, lower back pain, arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Heart Disease. Obese persons are at greater risk of having a heart attach before age 45.
Cholesterol. Obesity tends to raise cholesterol levels, especially LDL, that, in turn, increase the chance of heart attack.
Infertility. Obese women are more likely to develop ovarian failure. Overweight men suffer lower sperm counts or low motility.
Gallstones. Obesity leads to excessive bile being released from the gallbladder, causing gallstones. This is more prevalent in women.
Ulcers. The National Institute of Health (NIH) found that gastric ulcers are caused from the imbalance between hydrochloric acid and pepsin. Overweight persons are more prone to this condition.
Skin infections. Obese persons often have folds in their skin that become irritated. This, in turn, can cause serious infections that become difficult to cure.
There has been much research on the kinds of foods that lead to obesity. Dr. Robert Lustig found that the intake of excessive sugar in soft drinks and ice cream can lead to insulin resistance. When sugar is consumed, insulin is released to break it down. Too much sugar collects as fat in the liver and the body becomes resistant to a person’s sugar intake. If not treated, this condition can lead to Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Suzanne Higgs at the University of Birmingham found that the brain tells you when to stop eating. However, if you are sitting in front of a TV or computer and snacking, your brain is not registering how much you eat. We tend to keep eating way beyond the time our brain tells us to stop.
These facts are disturbing and require an intensive program of nutrition, diet and exercise at all levels of society, especially among our youth. However, if any changes are to occur, each individual who is overweight or obese must make a decision to lose weight and develop and regular regimen of diet and exercise that will maintain his/her weight loss over a lifetime.