Why is Everyone so Concerned About Obesity?

Obesity is a health concern for children, teens and adults, especially in the United States where obesity has been increasing over the years. Studies show that during the years 2003 to 2006, 16.3% of children and teens aged 2 to 19 years of age were obese.

There are many health implications connected to the rise in obesity rate including the fact that as obesity increases so does the risk for many diseases including heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, cancers including breast, colon and endometrial cancers. It also raises the risk for high blood pressure, high total cholesterol and high levels of triglycerides, an increased risk for stroke, sleep apnea, respiratory problems, and osteoarthritis and for females, abnormal menses and infertility issues.

A person who is severely obese has a serious health condition that can lead to an early death. Obesity is when the individual is 20% heavier than what his or her ideal weight is considered to be. Severe obesity is when the individual is 100 pounds overweight. It is believed that severe obesity may be the result of biochemical, physiologic, and genetic or inherited influences that affect weight maintenance.

What are the contributing factors for obesity?

The contributing factors for obesity are cultural, environmental, psychological and socioeconomic influences.

According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity, 2001; an energy imbalance contributes to obesity and also eating too many calories that does not get balanced out by enough physical activity. The U.S. Surgeon General’s call to action also said that body weight is the result of behavior, culture, genes, metabolism, and socioeconomic status. Because behavior and environment play such a huge role in the problem, they are the areas in which both prevention and treatment must concentrate on.

Weight management is a balancing act with the number of calories from beverages and food on one side and the calories going out due to body functions and the physical activity you do.

Genetics can also affect obesity because genes can directly cause a person to be obese such as in the disorders, Bardet-Biedl syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. Genes alone do not determine obesity but genes and behavior can. Genetics may increase a person’s susceptibility for obesity but outside factors such as consuming more food than is necessary and too little physical ability.

Other factors that can contribute to obesity include certain diseases such as Cushing’s disease and polycystic ovary syndrome. Drugs can also contribute such as antidepressants that can cause weight gain.
Why be concerned?

Approximately 300,000 deaths occur each year in the United States that can be directly related to obesity. Poor diet and lack of physical activity caused 400,000 deaths in the U.S. in the year 2000 that is 16% of the deaths that year as compared to tobacco being the cause of 18% of all deaths that year.

According to a recent study the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is catching up to tobacco as the top underlying and preventable cause of death in the United States.

You can’t get more serious than knowing that if you continue to be obese you are running the risk of dying. This is definitely cause for concern for anyone considered being overweight or obese.

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