A paper on the findings of a Study has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine which basically says that being overweight and not obese, does not lessen the risk of weight-related death – anyone carrying extra weight is at risk of dying from the additional burden.
40 % of the 4 million weight-related deaths in 2015 were not the result of clinical obesity – just being overweight did them in.
The Study has also revealed that over 2 billion people, including children, suffered from heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, and even some types of cancer – all due to being overweight.
“People who shrug off weight gain do so at their own risk – risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and other life-threatening conditions,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, author of the study and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.
“Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain,” he added.
The protracted research of 35 years (1980 – 2015) took into consideration 195 countries and the conclusion is that 2.2 billion children and adults who make up 30% of the world’s population are victims of overweight.
Out of the 2.2 billion affected people, over 600 million adults and 108 million children have a body mass index (BMI) higher than the threshold of 30 which makes them clinically/medically obese.
By the way, BMI of an individual is calculated by dividing his/her weight (in kilograms) by his/her height squared (in centimeters). Anyone with a BMI of 30+ is considered clinically/medically obese.
The Study observes that obesity has been steadily on the rise since 1980, having doubled in more than 70 of the 195 countries surveyed. What is alarming is that 13% of American children and adults are over the BMI threshold – simply put, they are obese.
Egypt, however, was at the top of the list at 35% in so far as adult obesity is concerned.
Last year, in an interview with Ruth Michaelson of the Guardian on the issue of obesity in Egypt, Dr. Randa Abou el Naga of the World Health Organization, held the lack of “vigorous physical exercise” responsible for the state of affairs.
What’s more worrying about the Study findings is that children are getting obese at a faster rate than adults with 15.3 million obese children in China and 14.4 million in India. The numbers make sense largely for two reasons:
a. China and India are the two most populated countries in the world, in that order. A higher number of obese children in the two countries with such large populations should be expected.
What is not right, though, are the number of obese children in the two countries and what steps the two governments and, indeed, the world should take to check the alarming rate with which it is happening.
b. Both countries have experienced tremendous growth and a surge in their respective economies in the last couple of decades. Prosperity has brought about “increased availability, accessibility, and affordability of energy-dense foods, along with intense marketing” which “could explain the weight gain in different populations,” says the Study.
The lowest on the obesity list of the Study are Bangladesh and Vietnam at a healthy 1% – at least, as far as obesity is concerned.
“Governments throughout the world caught like rabbits in car headlights, become petrified in the face of escalating obesity. Year after year, mega-statistics like these are published confirming that administrations appear powerless to avoid being crushed by them,” Tam Fry, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, has remarked.
Dr. Ashkan Afshin, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of Global Health at IHME observed that “Excess body weight is one of the most challenging public health problems of our time, affecting one in every three people.”
It is imperative that the world governments sit up and take notice, and intervene, and work on a war footing to counter the menace of obesity.
The authors stressed the need for intervention to reduce the pervasiveness of high BMI among populations in order to fight overweight and obesity and their consequences.
Dr. Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said “Our work to tackle obesity in England is world leading and we want to see other countries following our example.
“We have set clear guidelines for the food industry to reduce sugar in the foods children eat the most of and will openly and transparently monitor and report on their progress.”
To give you an idea of the seriousness and enormity of the situation here’s an extract from the article, “Health Effects of Overweight and Obesity in 195 Countries over 25 Years,” published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“The prevalence of overweight and obesity is increasing worldwide. Epidemiologic studies have identified high body-mass index (BMI, the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) as a risk factor for an expanding set of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, many cancers, and an array of musculoskeletal disorders. As the global health community works to develop treatments and prevention policies to address obesity, timely information about levels of high BMI and health effects at the population level is needed.”