Obesity And What We Aren’t Doing To Change

by September 26, 2013

What aren’t we doing to change obesity?  Let’s look at the who, what, where, when and the hows of obesity;  and also the differences of obesity and being overweight.


What Causes Obesity and Overweight?

The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:

  • an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat
  • an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation, and increasing urbanization.

Changes in dietary and physical activity patterns are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.

When Did We Become Obese?

Obesity did not happen overnight. Obesity has been on the rise since about 1980 and is now at epidemic proportions.

In the early 1960s, the average American adult weighed 168 pounds.  Today that average American male weighs nearly 180 pounds.  Over the same time period, an average female adult weight rose from 143 pounds to over 155 pounds. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1977, 1996)

In the early 1970s, 14% of the population was classified as medically obese. Weights have been rising throughout the twentieth century, but the rise in obesity since 1980 is fundamentally different from past changes.

Where is Obesity the Highest (2013)?obesityrates

  1. Mexico (32.8%)
  2. United States (31.8%)
  3. New Zealand (26.5%)
  4. Chile (25.1%)
  5. Australia (24.6%)
  6. Canada (24.2%)
  7. United Kingdom (23%)
  8. Ireland (23%)
  9. Luxembourg (22.1%)
  10. Finland (20.2%)

Source: OECD Health Data.

Who is Obese?

More than 10% of the world’s adult population is obese.

How Did We Do This?

A survey conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) found that between 1978 and 1996, the consumption of calories increased by 268 calories for men and 143 calories for women per year.

How can we stop or prevent our global obesity?

We have to stop first on an individual level (our own person) before we would ever be able to take on global obesity.  By educating ourselves and then sharing would be a stepping stone to helping others.

At our individual level, we can:

  • limit energy intake from total fats and sugars
  • eat the recommended fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts, have a balanced diet;
  • take part in regular physical activity.

As a society it is important to:

  • support individuals in following the recommendations above,;
  • make regular physical activity and healthier dietary choices available, affordable and easily accessible to everyone.

And lastly but not the least most important would be the food industry who play a significant role in promoting healthy diets by:

  • reducing the fat, sugar and salt content of processed foods;
  • ensuring that healthy and nutritious choices on the menu are available and affordable;
  • practicing responsible marketing especially those aimed at children and teenagers;
  • ensuring the availability of healthy food choices on the menu and supporting regular physical activity practice in the workplace for staff.

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