Consistent with data from the World Health Organization, there are at least 300 million obese people globally. The current statistics are significantly higher than those released in 1995 that revealed an estimate of 200million obese individuals worldwide. The disorder has spread to developing nations increasing the paradoxical double burden of obesity and undernourishment on developing countries. According to recent studies, 18% of Irish adults suffer from the disorder while 39% are overweight (Mongan, 2006). The crisis has spread to pediatrics with recent surveys illustrating an increase of 3% annually in the number of overweight and obese children. Corpulence financially strains the health sector significantly. Based on these data, obesity is a growing epidemic that results in numerous complications and increased cost of treatment.
Obesity and being overweight are based on body mass index characterized as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters. The United States of America is among the countries with the highest number of overweight and obese individuals. In 1998, a survey revealed that ninety-seven million of Americans were considered as overweight or obese (Mongan, 2006). Consequently, the Surgeon General released a directive to impede the obesity problem. The order was unwelcomed by federal agencies and Americans who continued to consume an overwhelming amount of calories. Although there are present efforts to combat the epidemic in the country, two-thirds of adults in the U.S are overweight.
Nevertheless, obesity is not only an American problem but has also spread to Europe, South Africa, Guatemala, Australia and Pacific Islands. The pandemic results in serious health and psychosocial well-being. For instance, in Ireland, at least two thousand individuals die each year prematurely from obesity and its related diseases. Apart from premature death, obese persons are at risk of general body system failure (Abelson, 2004). Some of the associated adverse health effects include an increased risk of stroke, cardiomyopathy, coronary heart disease, venous thromboembolism, and congestive heart failure. Ultimately, these effects lead to an increase in cardiovascular risk factors.
Though the medical and social burden is borne mainly by adults, obese children suffer considerable morbidity. The disorder leads to diminished quality of life since a majority of these persons face discrimination, earn lower incomes, and have diminished social relationships. As a result of its harmful effects, there have been numerous efforts to determine its etiology. Corpulence is a feature of many conditions such as drug-induced obesity, Stein-Leventhal syndrome, hypothalamic disease and hypothyroidism. However, these account for only a minority of the cases.
Numerous studies attribute obesity to genetics, nutrition, and dietary patterns. Though the contribution of genetics to the epidemic is significant, its expression is often promulgated by other factors. Specialists partitioned genetic susceptibility into four major categories that include genetically obese, slight predisposition to corpulence, increased likelihood of obesity, and genetically resistant (Abelson, 2004). Based on these classes’ individuals are more likely to develop the disorder. For example, those resistant remain lean in a wide range of environments unlike the genetically corpulent. Moreover, the nutritional intake by people presently consists of a high amount of saturated fats. Various studies illustrate an association between the growth of pandemic and energy dense foods. The change in dietary patterns over the years contributes adversely to weight gain. Increased consumption of fizzy drinks, sweets, and fast foods are linked to the spread of obesity. Consumption of fruits, vegetables, and fewer fats results in an appropriate BMI.
Current modern lifestyles are resulting in a population of overweight children and adults. In Europe, childhood obesity is growing into the most widespread disease. Thus, several experts foresee a drop in life expectancy of the current generation compared to their parents due to the disorder. The pandemic requires serious government intervention to support W.H.O’s campaign against corpulence. Consequently, it is imperative to address the social, environmental and cultural factors that impede weight loss and eradication of obesity.
- Abelson, P., and Donald K., (2004). “The Obesity Epidemic.” Science 304:1413.
- Mongan, A. M. (2006). The Obesity Epidemic. Trinity Student’s Medical Journal, 7, 1-12.