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Obesity means accumulation of abnormal or excessive fat to that degree which may be impaired for health. Since last decade, the statics have shown significant increases in obesity prevalence rates. If we talk about the UK, since 1980s, English obesity frequency rates have increased by three to four times during this time period in adults. It has been a tough task to find out reasons and drivers of the obesity, Because of this, how to fight against it presents major health challenges in public.
Obesity was rare in 20th century but WHO declared Obesity as a global epidemic in 1997. By the end of 2005, WHO estimated 400 million adults to be obese which around 10 percent of the world's population. Obese female were in more number in comparison with thee obese male. Obesity was increasing with age at least up to 50 or 60 years old and severe obesity was found in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Obesity rate was increasing faster than the overall rate of obesity in these countries.
The cost or penalties of obesity are known to everyone. Obesity is not considered to be a disease but it is none less than a disease. It is not only related with chronic circumstances such as a type of diabetes or coronary heart disease or some cancers, it also has social effects like discrimination and bias, psychosocial effects like low on self-esteem, anxiety or depression and economic effects like direct healthcare cost and other associated costs as consequences. Thus, in many countries including UK which are facing the obesity contagion, it has become public health priority to discuss the seriousness of this issue.
In the UK, following asymmetric decentralization in 1998, the tasks for generating and enacting health policies for public are now under the sponsorship of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom which includes England, northern part of Ireland and Wales. Public policies to fight against obesity have not only been formulated but also been implemented in affected area by the devolved regions.
Decentralization can present a series of challenges for a complete and rational policy response for the UK in fighting against obesity, but it also shows the scope for sovereign policy action within the regions which are already developed.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is being measured or it is characterized by an index which is known as body mass index of 30 +- and it is further calculated in terms of extra fat division via the waist-hip ratio and overall cardiovascular danger factors which includes a range considering genetic and environmental factors. But somehow the causes and the virtual outcome of these causes on the growth of obesity have remained unclear. Before exploring the possible causes, we should keep in mind that obesity, especially critical clinical obesity i.e. malignant obesity, has greater risks of premature mortality than the effects of simply being overweight. If the BMI of an individual is more than 35 and between 40, he/she is considered to be severely obese. If it is more than 35 and between 40 and 45, it is morbid obesity and of it is between 45 to 50 it is super obesity.
Here are the few problems related to Obesity:
To find out the Causes For unexpected increase in Obesity level:
Any clarification of the basic causes of the existing obesity spate must stand for its unexpected appearance. According to a report, there are more than six million adults in America who are morbidly obese currently and their BMI is 40+, these figures are almost twice as high as the figures of 1980, whereas around 9.6 million people have their BMI in the range of 35-40 and the overweight children between 6 to 11 were nearly doubled since the early 1980s. So it is assumed that genetic reasons are not likely to be considerable. Because while a disposition to obesity can be inborn, the reality that obesity has amplified so much in the last few decades appears to reduction genetics as a primary cause. The fact that every subsequent creation is heavier and healthier than the previous indicates that changes in our atmosphere which plays the major role.
Causes of Obesity
In we look at the trend in the sudden rise in weight levels globally we can call it "globesity". After taking all the factors into consideration we can say that environmental factors are prime cause in rising obesity. Still few of the major reasons are mentioned below.
Overconsumption seems to be a probable reason. Eating high calories to feed our energy needs can be considered as a major candidate for the primary cause of the current obesity contagion. As the income level goes up, people start having quality food and that's why increases in use of calorie crowded foods, and it is evidenced by quick growth of fast-food industry and higher energy or soft drink consumption is also pointing to energy intake in higher amount.
Consumption of High-Fat or Sugary Foods
It is another important cause of obesity. Person's eating habit plays a key role in the rise of obesity. According to researchers digestive disorder is the result of overconsumption and consumption of refined carbohydrates which are in the form of white flour. Disorders caused by these eating habits are type II diabetes, insulin resistance as well as obesity. This is currently increasing worldwide.
It is also assumed to be a possible cause of obesity. People who consume more energy by eating and eating need to use more calories so the remaining calories don't get stuck at any place. If they don't burn calories, their excess calories are stored as a fat. Let's take an example, if we consume 100 calories in excess in a day, we gain around 1 pound in a particular month. That comes to around 10 pounds in a particular year. This accumulates to almost 200 pounds of energy surplus in the time span of two decades!
Influence of Family
It is one of the major causes of the obesity. Behavior of the parents and their pattern of treating their children regarding their shopping habits, cooking style, eating as well as emphasize on exercise, have major control on a child's energy equilibrium and eventually their weight. So, family diet and standard of living are major contributors to present child plumpness.
Problems faced due to Obesity
Psychologically, being overweight can affect your body image and damage self-esteem. In some cases this can cause social anxiety and depression.
Arthritis: It is a disease cause swelling or ache in one or more joints of the body. Outcome of obesity put in extra stress on the body and because of this added pressure on the bones, muscles and joints consequences in pain and swelling of joints that result in arthritis.
Depression: The substantial and psychological physical condition trouble that happens due to obesity enhances the danger of building depression. Depression is a psychological health matter related to depressing thoughts that continues over a long time span.
Diabetes: Obesity has the risk of developing a type of diabetes and it is type II diabetes. Type II diabetes lessens the ability of the body to direct blood sugar levels. If there is high blood sugar in the body, it potentially outcomes in variety of severe problems such as heart disease, stroke, blindness and early death.
High Blood Pressure: It is a common disease that overweight persons or those who are obese are endangering of. They have extra risk of high blood pressure. If it is left untreated, it may result in stroke and heart attack which are more dangerous than high blood pressure.
Cancer: Obesity has the increased risk of creating or developing cancers of certain types. Few types of cancers caused by obesity are breast cancer, colon cancer, uterine cancer, kidney cancer and esophageal cancer which get enhanced cause of gain of unhealthy weight.
Gallstones: Obesity has the danger of mounting gallstones. It cause ache in the upper right abdomen. If anyone is obese and wishes to evade developing gallstones should start losing weight at a modest speed. Rapid or quick weight loss, or weight loss more than a pound in a week can add to the risk of rising gallstones.
Heart Problems: They are very common in persons who are obese or overweight. These individuals are always at the risk of affliction of a heart attack.
Pregnancy: Scientists has proved that being overweight is not well for an expectant mother. The sprain that is felt on the body of an expectant mother from pregnancy as well as the extra weight put together childbirth more arduous.
Stroke: It is a kind of mind attack and the danger of having a it is higher in people who are overweight or obese.
Sleep Apnea: Sleep apnea is the condition where an individual snores heavily and periodically stops breathing for short intervals. The condition results in sleepiness throughout the day and increases the risk of heart failure. Overweight people are at risk of developing sleep apnea.
Gout: It is a state that occurs when the stage of uric acid in the blood is at higher level. When the uric acid creates a material at the joints is alike crystal, it outcomes in joint problems. Obesity enhances the danger of increasing gout.
Infertility: Obesity can at times result in unusual menstruation in women. This abnormality reduces the probability of becoming pregnant. Sometimes this unusual menstruation results in infertility in many women and infertility is the lack of ability to become pregnant.
Back Pain: It is caused by excess body weight which puts extra strain on the reverse muscles and spine. This extra stress causes lower back pain.
Obesity in England
Out of all the developed states, England has availability of comprehensive data on obesity. Most of all countries in the world have clear differences in gender when it comes to obesity. According to obesity prevalence rate, in most countries most countries more women than men are found being obese. But according to the recent obesity prevalence data obesity in men are similar to that in women
According to the data taken from the 2006 Health Survey for England says that around 65 percent of adults male who are above 15 years are found overweight. Out of which 22 percent were found to be obese. At the same time prevalence rates for women were found similar and it was also 65 percent overweight and 21 percent obese.
Plumpness and obesity rates vary considerably as a growth of one's age in both men and women. This is partially because of an ordinary progression in the raise in body weight with the growing age. According to the data, overweight and obesity peaked in any individuals during the life span of 55-74 years of age with 77.4 percent of adults being overweight or obese compared to the general population rate of 65 percent. At older ages (beyond 74), obesity and overweight begin to turn down. This can be recognized as untimely transience of overweight and obese individuals evaluated to individuals who have ideal weights.
Trends in obesity prevalence rates among children in England showed a significant increase between 1995 and 2005. Among boys and girls aged 2-15, the proportion of those who were obese increased by more than 65 percent from 10.9 to 18 percent and by 50 percent from 12 to 18.1 percent respectively (Office of National Statistics, 2006). Childhood obesity increases with age, with children in higher age groups more likely to be obese than those in lower age groups. Furthermore, there is a clear relationship between childhood obesity and socio- economic status with children from deprived areas more likely to be obese than those in the least deprived areas.
Steps taken to fight against obesity
Steps Taken by UK government to fight against Obesity
The first step was taken in 2004 by UK government to fight against child obesity. Child obesity was growing concern of that time and it till today also it has been a growing concern for the society. Child obesity was made a Public Service Agreement target in 2004 in response to the growing concern and budget was allocated for the same. Three government departments jointly owned this target and the departments were Department of Health (DH), Department for culture, media and sports (DCMS) and Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
In January 2008, "Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives", a cross government strategy was published by Health Secretary and Secretary of State for Children. Aim of the strategy was to focus on five key areas. These areas are: The healthy growth and development of children, promoting healthier food choices, building physical activities into our lives, creating incentive for better health and personalised advice and support.
Government has started its first ever national social marketing campaign named as "Change4Liife" which has an aim to promote healthy weight and how important is to be healthy. Its ultimate aim is to prevent people from becoming overweight or obese and make them aware about healthy eating habits and tips to stay live for more years.
Another campaign supported by British Government was "Dance away your surplus pounds". British Government granted 5 million pounds for the promotion of dancing in schools. Few schools used this grant to promote "five-a-day fitness" programme in which students sat on a desk at a specified time on a day and perform live activities like dancing, twirl and star jump.
Another initiative has been taken by Heart UK which is cholesterol charity and works for preventing premature deaths by high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease. In support to role of exercise in government obesity strategy, Heart UK started to call employers to promote health awareness in their employees. It gave information on how physical activities can be helpful in keeping their employees fit and healthy and eventually that will lead to lower rate of absenteeism.
Steps taken to reduce Obesity at International Level
According to World Health Organization (WHO) the obesity was a major concern for the countries in Europe and America since 1980s and WHO emphasized on the governments to aware the people about the effects of obesity and it also suggested governments to make people aware about proper diet plans and how to improve their eating habits.
Child obesity was an issue of primary concern as public was not aware about proper eating habits. That is why the obese young apt to become obese adults, and their obese condition were responsible for all the health risks this condition which represents: heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, strokes and certain types of cancer. According to the Commission, around 3,000,000 European schoolchildren are found to be obese and around 85,000 children become obese every year and take place in this list. Illnesses which are associated with obesity are expected to account for more than 7% of the overall healthcare expenses in the EU.
To deal with the epidemic called obesity, the European Union platform has been set up by European Commission for accomplishment on physical activities or exercise, diet and health. This platform gets together consumer groups, industry people and experts from various health departments since March 2005. They all meet and search ways to fight against this epidemic named obesity. The primary emphasis is on the self-regulation and charitable promises from its stakeholders from food industry health departments and NGOs.
The Commission has put forward a Green Paper on obesity which invited stakeholders from the academics, NGOs and Business World to put forward policy recommendations. In the World Health Organization (WHO) European Ministerial conference on work against obesity in November 2006, the health ministers from European countries signed the European Charter promising to give higher place to obesity high up on the European public health and political outlines and to stop the progress of the rise in obesity by 2015.