More than a billion people, 12,5% of the world's population, suffer from obesity, a disease that has tripled its numbers since 1975.
Obesity is a serious problem, to the point that, in 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a disease "with a global epidemic character". And it is not for less, because obesity is growing non-stop and already affects 650 million adults, 340 million adolescents and 39 million children. And in 2025 another 167 million people will suffer from it.
Did you notice the detail? 650+340+39 = 1.029 million, that is, one eighth of the planet's population suffers from obesity. If that's not a global epidemic, a new pandemic, then what is?
Obesity rates in the world have almost tripled since 1975 and have increased almost five times in children and adolescents. It is an evil that affects people of all ages from all social groups, mainly in the Americas region, although it is present throughout the world.
Obesity or overweight?
For the common people, obesity and overweight are the same, but it is not like that. In fact, not knowing the difference is part of the problem because if the disease were treated in the initial phase, that of being overweight, there would undoubtedly be fewer people who would suffer from obesity and all its terrible consequences. Deep down, and this is very worrying, it is a matter of education.
According to the WHO, overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive accumulation of fat at a level that is detrimental to health. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is a simple indicator of the relationship between weight and height that is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilos by the square of their height in meters (Kg/m2). Determines the level of overweight and obesity.
In simple words, being overweight is the elevation of the individual's body weight above their normal weight by 10-20%. Regarding the BMI, which corresponds to the ratio of the weight expressed in kilos and the square of the height expressed in meters, all those people with a BMI between 25 and 29,9 kg/m2 are overweight and are at risk of developing obesity.
That is, being overweight is a step before obesity. Although it already represents an anomaly, it means that the health of that person has not yet suffered complex damage. This is the moment in which corrective measures must be taken, treatment under medical supervision must be started and, most importantly, bad habits must be changed.
On the other hand, obesity is a highly prevalent chronic disease in most of the world. It is characterized by a higher content of body fat, which, depending on its magnitude, determines health risks that limit the expectations and quality of life of the people who suffer from it. If it is not managed to stop it, this disease becomes deadly.
This condition originates due to the energy imbalance between the calories consumed and expended, that is, the person consumes more calories than they expend. Excess calories that comes mainly from the intake of ultra-processed, energy-dense foods and beverages, while not doing enough physical activity to compensate.
A sedentary lifestyle, added to unhealthy eating patterns, an insufficient amount of sleep and high levels of stress are factors that can increase the risk of developing obesity. It is the reason why people who eat healthy can become overweight, first, and then obesity, in addition, there are other risk factors.
For example? Environmental agents can increase the risk, such as interacting in an unhealthy or safe environment, as well as easy access to foods with excess substances that are not very beneficial. The consumption of alcoholic beverages, the disorder in the timing of meals, so common today, are also triggers.
Now, the million dollar question: can something be done against overweight and obesity? The answer, clear and forceful, is YES (in capital letters). Since 2020, the World Obesity Federation has established World Obesity Day, which is celebrated on March 4. The theme of this year's campaign is “Changing Perspectives: Let's Talk About Obesity”.
Previous celebrations have encouraged people to recognize the root causes of obesity, increase awareness of the disease and challenge weight stigma. Also, to highlight the voices of people with lived experiences and act to improve the understanding, prevention and treatment of obesity in the world, and act soon.
1.- The main thing, acquire healthy habits from childhood.
2.- Educate yourself to distinguish healthy foods from those that are harmful.
3.- Acquire the habit of practicing sports regularly and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle.
4.- Avoid frequent consumption of alcoholic beverages and cigarettes.
5.- Lower stress levels and increase quality rest time.
6.- Avoid the consumption of ultra-processed products.
7.- Increase the consumption of water, fruits, vegetables and vegetables. Adequate hydration contributes to increasing the feeling of satiety and helps to eliminate toxins.
8.- Include whole grains and nuts in the diet.
9.- Reduce as much as possible the consumption of sugar (in all its manifestations) and saturated fats.
10.- Go to a specialized doctor to develop the appropriate eating plan and have control over the factors that cause overweight and obesity.
This, however, is not enough. Because, since it is a global problem that has already gotten out of the control of the authorities, effective transversal actions are required, especially in the field of education and, above all, legislation. Because another factor that facilitates obesity is the media bombardment to which ultra-processed food brands subject us.
What to do then?
An excellent option, which every day more people put into practice, is to eat at home or, in another way, prepare at home to eat out. Today, when the planet tries to resume reality as we lived it before 2020, but without the worries and hysteria of then, thousands of people are enjoying the benefits of eating better. It is a life choice, without a doubt.
How do they do that? They prepare the food at home, healthy food, and consume it in the workplace. Many of them have an unconditional ally: BENTGO products, a brand from Santa Ana (California) that allows you to take food anywhere. Their lunch boxes were made with compartments that allow you to carry any food without wasting anything.
Anything else? One of the effective strategies to eliminate emotional hunger, the one that invites us to eat at odd hours and, above all, unhealthy products, is to stay hydrated. Not with sugary drinks, of course, but with water, mainly, or some natural infusion that you can consume anywhere, at any time. No regrets.
The important thing is to avoid single-use plastic bottles, which are highly polluting. To fulfill this purpose, the market has ecological Bevu® bottles, whose characteristics make them a unique product. They are 100% free of toxic substances (BPA), since they are made of stainless steel. In addition, its surface is non-porous and remains free of bacteria and viruses.
And there is more, which can be done soon:
1.- Regulation of advertising is required, especially that of children's products, and include frontal labeling
2.- Legislation that establishes taxes on sugary and ultra-processed beverages
3.- Make changes in the food environments of schools and colleges, avoid the exposure and sale of unhealthy products
4.- Opening of adequate spaces for the regular practice of recreational and sports activities by children
5.- None of this will help, however, if two powerful actions are not mediated: timely education and, above all, example
Obesity is a weight problem that can no longer be ignored. More than a billion people in the world, 12,5% of the total population of the planet, suffer from this disease. And the forecasts of the health authorities are worrying, because the measures adopted in the last 45 years have not produced the expected results.
And you, who read this article, are your eating habits healthy? Do you practice any sport regularly? Do you rest the necessary time? Do you consume alcoholic beverages, cigarettes or any other psychoactive substance? World Obesity Day is a good opportunity to reflect and, importantly, start acting.