Posts Tagged ‘Overweight’

Poor Diets, No Exercise – Obesity: 90 per Cent of the Population Could Be Overweight by 2050.

// November 16th, 2010 // No Comments » // Obesity

The levels of obesity are increasing throughout the world particularly in North America and Europe. England has some of the worst figures in Europe and also some of the worst trends in acceleration of obesity. In the majority of European countries numbers have increased between 10 and 40 per cent over the last 10 years, but in England this has more than doubled.

UK obese

Obesity in UK

Two-thirds of British adults are now either overweight or obese and, based on current trends, this figure could rise to nine out of 10 by 2050.

Obesity occurs when a person puts on weight to a point where it can seriously endanger their health. Some people are genetically more likely to put on weight but the basic cause is consuming more calories from food and drink than are used in everyday activity.

Rising levels of obesity are due to changes in eating habits and less active lifestyles. The reasons for both of these are complex. They include family patterns of eating and cooking and levels of physical activity which are all determined by level of knowledge, attitude and behaviour.

Cultural and psychological issues also play a major role as do poverty, access to affordable local facilities for healthy food and exercise and, of course, busy lifestyles. This has been made worse by the ease with which we can get cheap, high-calorie fastfoods and the physically-demanding lifestyles that we were once used to have now been replaced by more sedentary jobs and leisure activities.

There are several groups who are at increased risk of obesity – those from poorer backgrounds, people with physical or learning disabilities and people who recently stop smoking. Women, especially women from some ethnic groups such as Black Caribbean and Pakistani women, are more at risk of becoming obese than the rest of the population.

In Birmingham there is a large South Asian population who are at additional risk of developing conditions such as diabetes and heart disease because the weight gained in this group tends to be around the tummy region.

Other high-risk groups include children where one or both parents are obese. The problem facing children and young adults is a big one but it has the potential to be much worse in the future. At the moment at least 16 per cent of children aged two to ten in the Midlands are classed as obese and we have, at about 40 per cent, the highest proportion of women aged 16-24 years who are either overweight or obese. If current trends continue then 20 per cent of all boys and 33 per cent of all girls will be obese by 2020.

Poor diet and a lack of physical activity are mainly to blame. Children tend to watch more TV, play video games and spend time on line rather than pursuing more physical activities as was the case 30 years ago. One real concern is that poor dietary habits and physical inactivity in childhood are often carried through to adulthood and those who are overweight or obese children tend to become overweight and obese adults.

Currently the definition of obesity is based on what is known as the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is calculated by dividing the weight in kilograms by the height in metres squared. A BMI of more than 30 is classed as obese. However this is a rather crude method in that it does not take into consideration the percentage body fat and muscle, gender, ethnic origin or the distribution of body fat. For example, an athlete may have a body mass index of 30 and therefore technically would be classed as obese. Clearly this is incorrect and it is the amount and distribution of fat which is more important.

Fat distribution, particularly around the abdomen, would make an individual more prone to developing not only diabetes but also high blood pressure and problems with their cholesterol.

Obesity in the UK is now accepted as a major cause of social, psychological and medical problems. Obese people are twice as likely to die of heart disease. Obesity will reduce an individual’s life by an average nine years and is responsible for at least 30,000 premature deaths.

More concerning is the rise in Type 2 diabetes which has even been diagnosed in children. This was a condition mainly confined to older and elderly people but it is becoming more common at a younger age. Obese women, for example, are 27 times more likely to develop diabetes than normal weight woman.

The increased number of people with diabetes is associated with an increase in heart attacks and strokes.

The cost of treating obesity is huge and set to rise further with massive implications for the NHS. Treating obesity and its related problems nationally costs the NHS at least pounds 500 million per year and the wider cost to the economy could be an additional pounds 2-3 billion per year. It has been estimated that each year 18 million days of absence through sickness are related to obesity.

Obesity has been highlighted as a national priority for major health policies with several government initiatives addressing this issue.

Recently Health Secretary Alan Johnson and School Secretary Ed Balls published a longterm strategy aimed at tackling obesity. A pounds 372 million plan aimed at schools, the NHS, employers, town planners and individuals has been suggested and this includes pounds 30 million for the creation of “healthy towns to promote physical activity”.

Although the causes of obesity tend to be simple, the solutions are far more complex.

Clearly the major drive to tackle the problem of obesity has to be around improving dietary intake and also increasing levels of physical activity. Simple measures an individual can take, such as avoiding snacking and walking on a daily basis, can help reduce obesity levels.

Indeed many individuals need to make only modest changes in their lifestyle in order to get their weight down and keep it down.

Unfortunately, a common desire is to lose weight quickly so that the impact of the changes can be seen quickly. However, rapid weight loss is often associated with drastic measures and bad diets which are extremely difficult to maintain in the long term. Therefore when these individuals go back to their normal lifestyle the weight is rapidly regained and often with a little more. This is very disheartening and often results in people giving up on trying to lose weight.

In order to shed the pounds and maintain weight loss, healthy eating rather than fad diets, and a moderate increase in physical activity, such as an hour’s brisk walk on a daily basis, would help most people. An average weight loss of up to 1lb per week is good and this can be achieved by making modest changes to both diet and physical activity levels and can be maintained in the long term.

It needs to be remembered that weight gain usually occurs over many years and therefore to try to achieve weight loss over a short period of time and maintain this weight loss is generally unrealistic and, when the weight is regained, extremely disheartening.

Small changes in eating habits can have a major impact on your weight over time. For example, eating an extra 100 calories a day more than you require, which is equivalent to a slice of bread, on a daily basis in a year will result in weight gain of about 10 lbs. If you multiply this by five years then, over a fiveyear period just with one extra slice of bread per day, you could potentially gain 50 lbs in weight.

An increase in physical activity of walking briskly for about one hour a day is equivalent in a year to burning off about one stone in weight. Currently we walk about a mile a day less than we did 20 to 30 years ago.

For those with higher levels of obesity and who have developed problems such as diabetes and heart disease, there are tablets which can help. One such tablet can reduce the amount of fat that is absorbed from the food that you eat.

However, it reduces the absorption of fat by only about 30 per cent and therefore to achieve good results with this you need to be on a low-fat diet.

There are other tablets available which can help you if you feel hungry all the time. These drugs work by suppressing hunger.

However, all these medications are effective only if used as part of general lifestyle changes, which include healthy eating and an increase in physical activity levels. Taken on their own they are unlikely to have any significant impact on weight.

For those who are classed as morbidly obese, that is those who weigh twice as much as their recommended body weight for their height, there is the more drastic measure of surgery. Before this is considered the benefits of surgery will be weighed against the risks.

This is not a procedure which is entered into lightly and, once again, surgery generally is only successful in those who have made some lifestyle changes before their operation.

There are two types of surgery available. The first is a gastric band operation which places a plastic band around the stomach, causing patients to feel full sooner and limiting the amount that can be eaten.

A second operation is more permanent and involves essentially re-plumbing the stomach to prevent it from digesting food that has been eaten.

This is a permanent procedure and once again is considered for those where the risk of obesity outweighs the risks of the operation.

Obesity is a major problem already. If we do nothing now then the future for us and our children looks bleak.

Three People Die in Scotland Every Week Because of Obesity

// November 16th, 2010 // No Comments » // Obesity

RECORD numbers of Scots are eating themselves to death as the country’s obesity epidemic spirals out of control. Shocking figures obtained by the Scottish Daily Mail show three people a week die as a result of being dangerously overweight.

obesity is killing youThe number has rocketed by 70 per cent since devolution, according to disturbing statistics compiled by the General Register Office.

Last night experts called for radical action to curb the level of obesity deaths, which lead by around 14 per cent between 2004 and 2005.

Dr Colin Waine, of the National Obesity Forum, said: We are not sitting on an obesity time-bombthe time-bomb has gone off and the consequences are going to be devastating. The rising tide of Scots falling prey to obesity shows that lifestyle and diet are getting worse despite successive multi-million pound healthy eating campaigns.

The latest disclosures also prompted calls for obese children to be taken into care if their parents fail to encourage them to eat more healthily.

Obesity was either listed as the underlying cause of death or mentioned on the death certificate in 158 cases in 2005, the latest figures available just over three per week compared with 139 in 2004a rise of nearly 14 per cent and up nearly 74 per cent from 91 deaths in 1999.

Eighty-five of the 2005 cases were male, showing the problem is greater among men, according to the General Register Office for Scotland.

The figures, described as concerning by ministers, bring the obesity death toll north of the Border to around 900 between 1999 and 2005.

The surge in the number of times obesity is mentioned as a significant contributing factor to a death shows doctors increasingly believe the condition is responsible for a growing number of deaths.

Obesity is believed to cost NHS Scotland [pounds sterling]500million a year and by 2020 it is estimated 25 per cent of the NHS budget across the UK will be spent on treating diabetes and obesity-related conditions if present trends continue.

The condition poses a major risk for chronic diseases including type 2diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke and some cancers.

North of the Border, 65 per cent of men and 60 per cent of women are overweight and more than a fifth are obese while of Scottish children born in 2001, more than 20 per cent were overweight by the time they reached the age of three-and-a-half.

The National Obesity Forum described the increase in obesity deaths as deeply worrying and called for obese children to be taken into care in extreme cases.

Last year, the Mail told the story of Scottish teenager Emma McAuley who had to have life-saving surgery after her weight rose to 34 stone at the age of only16.

Dr Waine said: Solutions could include legislation to force manufacturers to limit salt content and so on rather than the current voluntary arrangements.

But in the most extreme cases, we have to consider whether obese children ought to be taken into care if their parents ignore health advice for the sake of the youngsters survival. He added: Obesity is a significant risk factor for developing a whole range of conditions, not just heart disease and diabetes.

It does not seem that ministers have curbed the problem despite the investment and that is desperately worrying. Professor Annie Anderson, of Dundee University’s Center for Public Health Nutrition Research, said: Obesity is notjust a genetic problem or a cultural problem or a clinical problem or a psychological problem it is all of these things and that needs to be recognized as we try to deal with a global issue which is posing a major health risk. Research by the University of Edinburgh earlier this year showed the number of people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes the preventable form of the disease will soar by 60 per cent within ten years. The disease is thought to reduce a patients life expectancy by at least eight years and can also lead to blindness, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and even amputation.

Diabetes and the problems associated with it already costs Scotlands health service nearly [pounds sterling]1billion a year.

North of the Border, ministers efforts to tackle the obesity epidemic have so far ended in failure despite massive investment.

It emerged in May that Scotlands fat star had been axed after an [pounds sterling]80millioncampaign to tackle the obesity crisis failed to make an impact, seen by some critics as a tacit admission of defeat.

Gillian Kynoch had been appointed as the Scottish Executives food and health-coordinator to promote healthy eating.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said: It is concerning that the number of deaths associated with obesity has risen.

We recognise that obesity is an increasing problem and poses a very serious threat to health. This is why we are making tackling the problem, particularlyearly in life, a high priority.

Overweight and Life Expectancy

// October 30th, 2010 // No Comments » // Obesity

Applicants for life insurance usually undergo a medical examination. In the Build Study of 1979,136 weight was measured in 86.1 to 88.5 percent of the 3,997,650 men and 592,509 women on whom policies were taken out. The analysis of such data, with all of its limitations, provides the major retrospective studies on the effects of body weight on mortality and morbidity. One limitation is that persons who buy life insurance may not represent the American population. They earn above-average income, are Caucasian, are free of serious medical diseases, and are usually engaged in “safe” occupations. The mortality rate among insured individuals is only about 90 percent of the rate for the entire population at all ages between 15 and 70.17

The information obtained from analysis of the life insurance experience is valuable for two reasons. The sample size is large, comprising several million individuals. Second, the individuals are continually followed until death, an event in which the life insurance companies have a financial interest. Figure shows the relation between excess mortality and deviations in body weight. The overall mortality rate—that is, the ratio of deaths to the total population of insured lives—was taken as 100. The

insured individuals were subdivided into subgroups based on the percentage deviation from the mean for the entire group. The death rate in each subgroup was then compared to the population as a whole and expressed as deviation from the overall mortality of 100. The minimum death rate occurred at a body weight that was slightly less than the average weight for the entire population. As body weight, expressed as the BMI (kg/m2), increased, there was a progressive increase in “excess mortality.” There was also a small increase in excess mortality with very low body weight. This was more pronounced in the younger age group than in the older one and may reflect a higher number of smokers. The excess mortality among those with life insurance was due to diabetes mellitus, digestive diseases, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.

Comparison of the Build and Blood Pressure Study of 1959135 with the Build Study of 1979136 reveals several facts. Body weights of insured Americans were higher in the recent study. However, the curvilinear relation of excess mortality to BMI was evident for all age groups in both studies. Unfortunately, few grossly obese individuals were insured in either study. The implications from the life insurance studies is that obesity is hazardous.

Drenick and associates36 provided a clear insight into the effects of gross obesity on life expectancy. They reviewed two hundred morbidly obese men whose average weight was 143.5 kg, who were admitted for a weight-control program and followed for an average period for seven and a half years. Of these men, 185 were followed until death or termination of the study. The age range was 23 to 70 years with a mean of 42.7 years. The mortality rate was higher at all ages when compared with the mortality expected for the general population of U.S. males. In men aged 25 to 34, the excess mortality was 1,200 percent! In those aged 35 to 44, the excess mortality had declined to 550 percent, and in men 45 to 54, it was 300 percent. In men aged 55 to 64, the excess mortality was only double that of the normal U.S. population. This study showed that the excess mortality associated with obesity is greatly increased in the younger age groups and that excess mortality is substantially higher in grossly obese persons.