July 2017

How Big is Obese?

Obesity is considered to be a global issue that is affecting populations in all parts of the developed world, and with even a quick look at the statistics it is not hard to see where the concern is coming from. With 1 in 4 men in the UK affected by obesity and 1 in 3 adults in the USA one can see that obesity is more than just a local issue. The causes of obesity are many and the way it is has been perceived in the past is just as manifold. In this article we take a look at what is considered to be obese now and see how it holds up against past conceptions of the issue building up to our society.



So just how big is obese? Officially if your body weight is above 20% of what it should be you are obese. This is calculated through the Body Mass Index or BMI. Having a BMI of 25 to 29 is enough to be considered overweight, but anything above this is officially recognised as obesity. The distinctions are important because obesity hugely increases the risk of many critical medical conditions and is often a cause for surgery or medical treatment. How did it come to this, and has this always been the way we measure obesity? The issue is by no means recent but its perception and understanding have changed rapidly with society.


In the 1920s and 1930s we can already begin to see concern over the issue of obesity. Doctors and medical journalists were writing beginning to publish articles and statistics in the interwar and postwar periods about those who are noticeably overweight, however the understanding of the term was quite different. A telling factor is that the average intake of calories for the working individual was 2,300 – a massive decrease from what we would expect today. As a matter of fact obesity was recognised as an issue only in the upper stratas of society, seen in those who could afford to eat more and indulge themselves.



Using logic we can establish that seeing as the availability of food as greatly increased so has our consumption of it. More and more people are able to become overweight and naturally the numbers have ballooned. Thankfully our society also provides more answers to obesity, even though instances of it are increased. Weight loss procedures and cosmetic surgeries are just one of the options that people turn to including gastric balloon and tummy tuck operations. Whilst these procedures are popular doctors agree that the world needs to address its consumption and view of food in order to really tackle obesity at its core.