Obesity Brie, Christina, Erin, Michelle Obesity is a common condition describing excess body weight in the form of fat. It is a major medical problem of western society. Obesity is clinically defined as a body mass index of 30 or more. Body mass index, or BMI, is the body’s weight in kilograms divided by the square if the body’s height in meters. Although this is usually a suitable method in measuring obesity, it doesn’t take into account the amount of muscle a person may have. If a body builder were to take a BMI test, they would most likely get over 30. This doesn’t necessarily mean they are obese as their weight is in the form of muscle rather than fat. However, obesity is associated with many illnesses and is directly linked to increased mortality and a lower life expectancy. It contributes to approximately 300,000 deaths per year in Australia alone. Obesity affects the quality of life of an individual. It is estimated that obese people miss work and school days more often than people in a healthy weight range. Additionally, obese people are more likely to suffer from an additional illness, constant tiredness and inability to get involved in physical activity because of joint, back pain and shortness of breath. Obesity is a major problem in Australia. It affects 68% of men and 55% of women. This amount has increased by approximately 5% since 1995. The amount of overweight/obese Australian children has also increased from 5.2% to 7.8% since 1995. Obesity generally affects male children more than females. 17% of children are overweight and 7.8% are obese. It is predicted that if measures are not taken to combat obesity then by 2025 more than 16.9 million Australians will be over a healthy weight. Children today are more likely to become overweight/obesity than children in the past. Generally, adults of more recent generations are at greater risk. There are many causes of this disease, the main problem being energy imbalance. Too many people in our society consume more kilojoules than they expend. This can be linked to more fast food outlets providing foods which are high in fat and low in vitamins as well as an increase of processed foods available at supermarkets. Another factor stems from modern technology “making our lives easier.” Jobs are less physically demanding and because of modern transport, going to work expends little energy. In our society, we watch too much TV and spend too long on the computer. Unfortunately, this increased use of technology leads to people exercising less, and therefore expending less energy. Another common cause of obesity is the food choices Australians are making. We choose high fat and sugary foods over their nutritional counterpart. Since the overall cost of food has decreased, people are more likely to purchase more food than necessary. We have become lazier, and choose to buy takeout food, rather than home cooking a healthier alternative. Family influences can be another aspect of this issue. For example, a child’s parents can influence their food choices and lifestyle. In some cases, the child grows up with this mentality guiding their lifestyle choices. If a family tends to be to be overweight, then parents need to be extra careful to make healthy food choices. Genetics can sometimes raise the chances of a person becoming obese. In some very rare cases, gene disorders can cause obesity. In a lot of other cases, genes can make someone more likely to become obese. Being a little bit chubby doesn’t cause too many obvious problems, but after gaining several extra kilos, the symptoms of obesity will begin to affect your daily life. The everyday problems of obesity can be as simple as shortness of breath but unfortunately in the long term, there are far more serious health concerns. In the early stages of obesity, the following symptoms will become apparent: • breathlessness • sweating profusely • snoring • sleeping problems • inability to cope with spontaneous physical activity • feeling fatigue during the day • pain in back and joints The long term affects of obesity can include: • having reduced mobility leading to a poor quality of life • high blood pressure • heart disease and stroke • high cholesterol levels (fatty deposits blocking up your arteries) • breast cancer in women • gall bladder disease • gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (when acid from the stomach flows up into the gullet) and associated problems • arthritis of the back, hips, knees and ankles • diabetes, and difficulty controlling existing diabetes • polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS - multiple cysts within the ovaries) and • premature death There are more than just physical consequences of obesity. Emotional or mental problems can also arise from having this disease. Such as: • having low self-esteem - or poor self image • having low confidence levels • feeling isolated in society Obesity is a disease that can be prevented by lifestyle changes. These changes should include the development of healthy eating habits and regular physical activity. Schools need to educate their students about healthy lifestyle choices and the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. As well as this, the general public need to be informed of the risks they take when making unhealthy food choices. Physical activity should be promoted and supported. The thing is, Australians need to informed and reminded about ENERGY BALANCE. If we all only consume the amount of energy we expend then we can all live healthier, happier longer lives.
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