Some people say that obesity is the plague of the 21st century. They may be right. Obesity has become one of the biggest problems of modern society. Many factors contribute to this condition, such as the lack of exercise and unhealthy diets. Every year, the number of people with excess body fat grows. Although many people try to eat healthy and exercise regularly, global awareness for obesity is still not high enough to fight this tremendous problem effectively.
What is Obesity and BMI?
Obesity is a condition whereby body fats is in excess so much that it has a negative effect on health. The body mass index (BMI) is used to measure the amount of fat mass of an individual. The formula for calculating the index is really easy. Divide your weight by two and then multiply by your height. The BMI that you get puts you in a certain category and can show your overall health:
- Underweight: people who have BMI lower than 18.5. Being severely underweight can be as dangerous as being overweight. Such an index means that the individual is too skinny and needs to regain healthy weight to preserve normal body functions.
- Normal weight: BMI ranges between 18.5 and 25. This is the optimal ratio between height and weight.
- Overweight: BMI is between 25 and 30.
- Obese: BMI is over 30.
BMI does not vary from age and sex. Overweight and obesity are main factors for health problems in the hormonal, reproductive and immune systems. It can lead to other negative health consequences. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of obese people worldwide has doubled since 1980. Two years ago, the number of people suffering from obesity is 600 million which is really big number. 39% of the adult population worldwide has excessive body fat. Worldwide, people who are obese are more than those who are under normal weight. That is not surprising since the fast food industry is flourishing.
What Causes Obesity?
The increased amount of calories intake, in other words, consuming foods that contain high amounts of fat, leads to obesity. Calories are converted into fats and this is the primary reason why an obese person ought to adjust his or her eating routine.
- The lack of physical activity is another factor. With the technology boom, many people spend most of their time in front of the TV, computer or looking at the screen of their smartphone or tablet. Transportation also makes people inactive. Thus, calories cannot be burnt and are stored instead.
- Genes and family history also have an influence over weight. If one of the parents is stout, their children may be prone to being overweight. The amount of fats store in your body depends on your genes. By exercising regularly and watching your daily calorie intake, you can keep a healthy weight.
- Hormones also play a role in your weight. Some of the most common diseases that are weight related are reduced production of hormones by the thyroid gland, polycystic ovaries and Cushing’s syndrome.
Other factors for overweight include medicines and smoking. Emotional factors, age and lack of sleep also contribute to excessive fats.
Potential Risks of Obesity
There are different diseases which are linked to obesity.
- Coronary illnesses and strokes are the most common conditions for a person who is overweight. The reason for that are high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol.
- Type 2 diabetes is also connected to obesity. Due to the high levels of blood sugar, developing this type of diabetes puts obese people at greater risk.
Gallbladder disease is also linked to obesity. There are several kinds of gallbladder diseases. Being overweight can aggravate the formation of gallstones. Another condition is the inflammation of the gallbladder. It is called cholecystitis and can be chronic or acute.
- Gout is characterized by extra uric acid in the blood. It forms crystal-like formations that are stored in the joints, which leads to their swelling. This disease is extremely painful.
Food Security Index
Food security index (FSI) measures and analyses food security around the world. It uses 28 criteria to arrive at an index. The criteria are subdivided in four groups. They are ‘affordability’, ‘availability’, ‘quality and safety’ and ‘external adjustments’. Food security means that people have access to proper nutrition. Its record demonstrated that the countries with poor economy have the lowest obesity levels. These countries are Madagascar, Vietnam, Nepal, Ethiopia and Bangladesh. FSI also provides obesity rates by country. USA use to be the most obese country but it is in the 10th position this year. It is evident that Americans are paying more attention to their weight and health.
Top 10 of the Most Obese Countries in the World
10. United States
It has been considered the nation with a high percentage of obesity. 31.8% of the population is obese. It is thought to be the nation with a very heavy dependence on fast food and a general disinterest in healthy living. Apparently, USA is not at the top position for the most obese countries. It has a higher standard of living than the rest of the obese countries listed here. 33% of Americans are obese. The good news is that the number of overweight individuals is dropping.
32.8% of the Mexican population has excessive body fat. The main reason for overweight is not surprising – junk food. 30 years ago, the average Mexican diet consisted of fresh and natural food. Now, Mexico has become the largest consumer of soda worldwide.
Due to its abundance in natural resources, Qatar quickly became wealthy. It is one of the richest countries in the world and fast modernization and economic growth led to inactive lifestyles. Moreover, fast food chains are common in Qatar. This change evidently influenced the health of the population. 33.1%of the population is obese and the diabetes rate among children is rising.
7. South Africa
The percentage of overweight and obese people is 33.5%. Among the deceased in South Africa, half died from strokes and heart attacks. This is not surprising, given the fact that so many citizens are overweight. Again, the main culprit is junk food.
6. United Arab Emirates
With the onslaught of western culture in the UAE, fast food was introduced as well. Now, 33.7% of the population is obese. Another reason may have a cultural root. In the United Arab Emirates, there is an ancient notion that being chubby is a status symbol of the rich. The fatter you are, the richer you are. Of course, this misconception leads to a great number of overweight people.
Obese women are twice as many as obese men. 34.3% of the population is overweight. One reason for more obese women is that they marry at a young age and are not allowed to work. This resulted in an inactive lifestyle. Wealth and smoking also play important roles of the obesity problem.
Rapid economy growth is an important factor for the index of obesity increasing to 34.6%. Obese people are concentrated in the cities. An inactive lifestyle combined with fast food containing empty calories can be really harmful to health. Egypt has one of the highest diabetes rate in the world. Weight gain, an improper diet of fast food and soft drinks are the main culprits of obesity.
34.9% of the population is obese. This country drastically moved up on the obesity list and this amazes most people since Belize hasn’t been on the list previously. It is situated in Central America and it is the only country in that region on the obese country list.
2. Saudi Arabia
Obesity, just like the economy, is on a dramatic rise for the last 10 years in Saudi Arabia. Before that, it sat at the bottom of the 30 most obese countries. Today, it second in place with a 35.2% obesity rate. Over one third of women have weight problems or health issues linked to it. The number of people suffering from diabetes is growing rapidly. Medical coverage does not cover medical problems associated with corpulence and this is one of the primary issues regarding health services in this nation. This means that people may have to pay a premium to reduce their weight and restore their health.
Kuwait is at the top of the obesity list. Fast food is blamed for the 42.8% obesity index. Gluttony and fast food mania led to another western trend: stomach stapling. Kuwait is addicted to stomach stapling. Annually, 5000 procedures are done in Kuwait and its population is only 3.5 million. The main factors for the high obesity rate are over-consumption of fast food, the fast increase of the economy and wealth, inactive lifestyles, cultural perception that obesity represents wealth as well as lack of health education on the risk of obesity.