There is an alarming rate of people – both children and adults – who are succumbing to health problems caused by obesity, according to a new study by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. Shockingly, more than two billion people around the world are afflicted with diseases that are related to being obese or overweight. The study published in The New England Journal of Medicine found that there’s a significantly huge number of people who are dying even though they are not technically obese. The research showed that 40 percent of the four million deaths observed were people whose body mass index (BMI) are not even above the threshold for obesity. The study authors are deeply concerned about the growing global public health crisis.
Obesity is a serious concern and it’s also very expensive. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) more than a third (36.5 percent) of adults in the U.S. are obese. These people are at risk of some of the leading causes of preventable death like stroke, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancers. More shockingly, the approximate annual cost of obesity in 2008 was $147 billion. Despite declines in the number of children who are overweight, obesity still remains high in this population. There are about 12.7 million (17 percent) of obese children and adolescents as of 2014.
The study involved 195 countries and used data from 1980 to 2015. It also analyzed other studies on the impact of excess weight and assessed the probable links between high BMI and certain types of cancers: rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, breast, biliary, ovary, thyroid, uterus, and even leukemia. Data showed that in 2015, 2.2 billion children and adults all over the world were affected by excessive weight. The pervasiveness of obesity has doubled since 1980 and has continued to rise in other countries.
“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. He further added: “Those half-serious New Year’s resolutions to lose weight should become year-round commitments to lose weight and prevent future weight gain.”
Junk food can be considered as one of the contributors of this epidemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) describes the cause of obesity: It occurs when there is “an energy imbalance between calories consumed and the amount expended.” Junk foods are addictive, have low nutritional value, and high calorie content.
The excess sugar and fat contained in junk food accumulates in the body, leading to weight gain. When this happens, you become susceptible to other conditions, like type-2 diabetes and heart diseases. Not only that, junk food affects your energy levels. The high sugar content disrupts your metabolism. Moreover, eating these unhealthy snacks can lead to liver damage, high cholesterol, poor performance, and obesity.
“Excess body weight is one of the most challenging public health problems of our time, affecting nearly one in every three people,” said Dr. Ashkan Afshin, assistant professor of Global Health at IMHE and lead author of the study.
The fight against obesity may require numerous interventions but, in theory, preventing it should be simple: Stop reaching into those bags of chips. It’s hard, yes, because it requires a lot of self-control but if you’re seriously concerned about your health, you’d put an end to it. You can also look for natural and healthier snack alternatives.