January 2017

Combating Obesity

Obesity, arguably 21st century's most prominent and concerning public health issue, is a disease that affects children, adolescents and adults. Considered to be a worldwide epidemic, around a billion adults globally are thought to be overweight, and out of these, 300 million have been diagnosed as obese.[1]

The continuing shift towards a more sedentary lifestyle - office work instead of farm work; playing computer games instead of sports - along with greater access to nutrient-rich, sweet and fatty foods are all contributors to the disease.[2] In a nutshell, people are ingesting more calories than they can afford to burn.

The prevention of obesity starts from childhood and the reason why this is so is because the likelihood of an obese child becoming an obese adult increases from 20% from four years of age to 80% by adolescence.[3]

Combating Obesity in Infants

Studies have implied that the longer infants are breastfed, the less likely they are of becoming overweight when they grow older - breastfed infants are 15-25% less likely to become overweight; and those who are breastfed for over six months are 20-40% less likely to become overweight.[4]

Combating Obesity in Children and Adolescents

Along with genetics and lifestyle, children and adolescents are more likely to be overweight or even obese due to inactivity and poor diets. With young people, the key to preventing obesity starts at home:

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 adjust family eating habits and activity levels to ensure a healthy diet and optimum physical activity

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 be the role model - children tend to mimic their parents' habits; so try to eat more fruits and vegetables and be more physically active

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 encourage physical activity by signing children up for extracurricular activities at school and reducing TV and computer time

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 stock the fridge with foods that are not rich in sugar and fats - e.g. fruits and vegetables

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 encourage children to drink water instead of soda, sports drinks and juice[5]

Combating Obesity in Adults

For adults, moderation, determination and discipline are three factors needed to combat weight gain, along with:

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 eating five to six servings of fruits and vegetables daily

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 avoiding processed foods and switching to whole grain foods instead

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 avoiding super-sized menu items at fast food restaurants

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 learning about portion sizes by weighing and measuring your food

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 partaking in at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day - walking around the block; up and down a flight of stairs etc.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽 weighing yourself regularly[6]

It must be noted that simply telling each individual to go on a diet and exercise may not always be enough. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), public health officials of countries should promote and encourage healthy eating and exercise; develop public policies that promote access to healthy, low-fat, high-fiber foods; and training healthcare professionals so that they can effectively help and support those who need to lose weight and those who want to prevent weight gain.[7]

Sources:


[1] L. Yoffee, Medically reviewed by C.W. Craig, MD, 'How to Avoid the Obesity Epidemic', in Everyday Health, last updated May 20th, 2009, viewed on November 24th, 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/obesity-prevention.aspx

[2] ibid

[3] 'Obesity - How to Prevent Obesity' in Stanford Health Care, viewed on November 24th, 2015, https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/healthy-living/obesity/prevention.html

[4] ibid

[5] 'Obesity - How to Prevent Obesity' in Stanford Health Care, viewed on November 24th, 2015, https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/healthy-living/obesity/prevention.html

[6] ibid

[7] L. Yoffee, Medically reviewed by C.W. Craig, MD, 'How to Avoid the Obesity Epidemic', in Everyday Health, last updated May 20th, 2009, viewed on November 24th, 2015, http://www.everydayhealth.com/healthy-living/obesity-prevention.aspx