A large coalition of organisations from around the world have come together, all working to raise awareness of the rising obesity epidemic. From the North American-based groups Obesity Canada, Obesity Action Coalition, Obesity Society and Obesity Medicine Association, to the European Association for the Study of Obesity, Asia Oceania Society for the Study of Obesity, alongside organisations based in Africa, South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, they have come together to help tackle obesity, showing policy makers what they can do to help and educating the public on what can be done on the individual level.
With this in mind, they launched World Obesity Day, beginning in 2021 on the 4th March. They call it a global response to a critical challenge, one that affects 650 million people worldwide and about which many people understand little.
World Obesity Day is far from the first event of its kind. Obesity weeks and days have been held over the last few years, all around the world, to great success. These include National Obesity Care Week in the USA, European Obesity Day and Indian Obesity Day. All told, these campaigns have reached a potential 1 billion people.
However, World Obesity Day is the first to grip the entire world, recognising obesity’s transnational nature.
Obesity is a very complex disease. Possible solutions to the problem are often fraught with complexity and stigma at a time when people need most to come together and think positively.
World Obesity Day seeks to overcome many of these challenges. A mixture of global, national and regional campaigns and events seek to change the narrative surrounding obesity whilst educating people on how to live healthier lives, fighting obesity household by household.
As World Obesity Day makes clear, obesity is a global health concern. It is making its presence felt in almost every country. Many people around the world have been affected by it, with many more beginning to experience its detrimental effects year by year.
In the UAE alone, there are some worrying statistics to accompany this claim, as we made clear in our recent post on the subject.
For instance, up to 19% of under-eighteens across the UAE are obese. Up to 29% of men and 46% of women are obese across the UAE. The major causes of this mounting obesity crisis in the UAE specifically include:
- Lack of physical activity
- Unhealthy and excessive diets
- Genetic factors
- Changes in cultural norms, alongside behavioural and environmental factors
- Increase in eating disorders and other mental health concerns
Obesity can impair somebody’s health in a great many ways.
Breathing issues, such as sleep apnoea and obstructive pulmonary ailments are worsened. In fact, these kinds of issues often only present in the first place in the presence of obesity. Heart conditions like coronary heart ailment, heart strokes and cardiovascular disease are common with obesity.
Obesity greatly increases the chances of developing type II diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. It often brings about liver and gallbladder complications. The likelihood of developing certain types of cancer, specifically bowel and prostate in men, and uterine and breast cancer in women, is increased in obese individuals.
It has never been so important for individuals to begin to take their health and weight seriously, nor for global leaders and legislators to begin to recognise that the health of their populations requires drastic attention. The obesity epidemic is hard to beat- which is why it is still going, years after it was first brought to the public’s attention. However, if initiatives like World Obesity Day can manage to educate people and show them how to form the kinds of positive, healthy habits that will overcome it, obesity can be a thing of the past.
How fitness can help in the fight against obesity?
The importance of regular physical activity, in whatever forms it takes, cannot be overstated in tackling obesity. Whatever your lifestyle, habits, or weight, World Obesity Day should show you the importance of regular exercise maintained in conjunction with an appropriate, healthy diet. This is how we, as individuals, can halt and reverse the growth in obesity cases.
Regular exercise brings about improved health. It lowers the risk of developing a great many diseases, whilst improving circulation, bringing greater wellbeing, allowing for better sleep, diminishing symptoms of stress and depression, increasing energy levels, maintaining healthy muscle mass and bone density, and, of course, helping you to control your weight at a healthy level.
As a society, we need to appreciate the benefits of everybody maintaining as active a lifestyle as possible. Doing so will keep us collectively healthier and happier.
Your body will be worse off for neglected your physical health and living a sedentary life. Being physically inactive, much like obesity, has been linked to an increased risk of suffering many types of cancer, alongside a great many additional chronic, debilitating diseases like type II diabetes and osteoporosis. Though we all often need to sedentary for long periods of the day as we sit at computers and take transportation, we can make sure our time spent away from work makes up for it. Doing so can drastically improve your quality of life and sense of personal wellbeing.
Getting- and staying- active will lower your risk of developing any and all of the above. It’s never too late to get yourself a gym membership! As we have seen, being active, and keeping your weight at a healthy level, will lead to improved energy levels, joint mobility, immune function, sleep quality and respiratory function, among many others. You will have stronger muscles and denser bones and will be more likely to maintain a healthy bodyweight when you live an active lifestyle.
Mobility, heart health, blood pressure and cardiovascular fitness can remain strong well into old age if they are cared for, meaning that you could have a happy, active life without burdening anybody or increasing your own suffering as you age. You will be able to chase around after your grandchildren, make it out to the shops, and do any number of daily chores without it hurting you, and without needing help.
A large part of these benefits come from maintaining a healthy weight.
How to lose weight? Can we tackle obesity?
Weight loss is simple, if not always easy. To lose weight, eat a caloric deficit (roughly 500 calories per day under your maintenance calories will allow you to lose around 1 lb/ 0.5 kg per week) and do some exercise.
Of these two facets of weight loss, diet is the most important. It is central to remaining healthy and fighting obesity.
First, as above, get a handle on your caloric intake, if you feel you need to lose weight. A simple online BMR calculator using a Harris-Benedict formula will be all you need to work out how much you should be eating. Then aim for that modest daily caloric deficit of 500 and lose your pound per week. After this, make sure that you are taking your calories from the right sources. Bin the junk food as much as possible. Instead, choose plenty of lean protein, healthy unsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables and fibre sources like rice or whole grains: these should form the bulk of your diet.
Physical activity can go a long way to reversing the presence of obesity and bringing about positive health and wellbeing changes, as we have seen. It doesn’t matter what exercise you choose- yoga, running, weightlifting, swimming- as long as you regularly get your heart rate up and experience resistance through your muscles, you will be better off.
So, clean up your diet, find out what fitness classes are on near you, and watch the pounds fall away.
Aside from this, check in with your doctor. They will be able to tell you any physical issues you may have, the extent of them, what your metabolic and hormonal levels are doing (and if and how they are affecting your weight) and medical intervention may help you on your path to a fitter, healthier version of yourself.
It really is this straightforward.
This is the tragic part about the obesity epidemic: in many (not all) cases, it is an incredibly treatable disease. Given what we know about health and fitness, about weight loss and good lifestyle choices, we should be able to do it. As we further educate ourselves others and make weight loss easier for everybody, through initiatives like World Obesity Day, obesity could become a thing of the past. A combination of individual and collective will could see the world become a healthier place.