Obesity: How Expanding Waistbands are Weighing Us Down


By Rosie Percy

The majority of adults in America are suffering with their weight. According to the CDC,  35.7% of adults and 17% of children now overweight or obese. 

What causes obesity?

Obesity is quite simply caused by eating too much and doing too little. If you eat in excess of your daily calorie allowance (2,500 for an active man, and 2,000 for an active woman) and do not exercise to burn off the additional intake, the extra energy consumed will be stored in your body as fat cells.

Often people may not understand the calorie intake of food, so do not realise that they have reached or even exceeded their daily limit. However there are certain types of food that contain a very large amount of calories that you may not be aware of. For example just one meal consisting of a burger, fries and a milkshake can add up to 1,500 calories. Alcohol is also a culprit for hidden calories; 2 large glasses of white wine will provide a woman with 20% of her daily calorie intake.

Eating the wrong types of food can also lead to becoming overweight. To maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended to eat a balanced diet consisting of fruit, vegetables, protein and unrefined carbohydrates. Oily fish such as mackerel also provides great levels of the fatty acid Omega 3, which reduces the risk of heart disease.
Photo courtesy of trenttsd

Calorie-ignorance is not the only reason behind obesity – some individuals may binge on unhealthy food as a way of making themselves temporarily feel better. This is an eating disorder developed as a method of coping with emotions such as anger, boredom or anxiety. It is estimated that 50% of binge eaters have suffered from depression at some point in their lives.

What are the effects of obesity?

Obesity increases your risk of developing heart, liver and kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and some types of cancer. Mental health is also a concern for people suffering with obesity, as being overweight increases their risk to develop depression, anxiety and low confidence.

Carrying excess weight can also be detrimental to your personal life by affecting your ability to find and retain work, your sex life and even your physical ability to complete everyday tasks. Obese women are also more likely to experience problems during pregnancy, such as the potentially dangerous condition pre-eclampsia, where blood pressure increases rapidly.

It is estimated that 1 in every 16 deaths is related to obesity – this accounts for up to 35,000 deaths each year.

What are the treatments for obesity?

The most straightforward treatment for obesity is to exercise and eat well. The government wants to see a downward trend in the amount of adults with excess weight and a sustained decrease in obesity in children within the next 7 years, and have implemented several schemes to achieve this. These schemes include the popular televised “Change4Life” campaign which provides advice on healthy eating and keeping fit. Food labelling will also be made clearer, to ensure that people are able to make an informed choice to eat better.
However some people struggling with their eating habits may require additional assistance to get on the right track to a healthy lifestyle. For example, those battling an eating disorder may require cognitive behavioural therapy to help change their attitude towards foodbefore they can successfully lose weight.

Rosie Percy writes about a range of topics and for a wide variety of industries including education, health and business. If you are suffering with an eating disorder or know someone who is, and would like more information on what help is available, visit clinical partners treatment for eating disorders.

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