Obesity is a condition in which the subject in question has excessive body fat which may pose negative effects on his/her health, and thus reducing the life expectancy of the subject and/or additionally increasing the health problems that the subject may encounter. Obesity is measured using the body mass index (BMI). The BMI is a measure that compares the height and weight of an individual to determine whether s/he is obese or pre-obese. Pre-obese people have a BMI which ranges between 25 to 30 kg/m2 and obese people are people with a BMI above 30 kg/m2. Obesity predisposes individuals to various health conditions, including type II diabetes, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular diseases, obstructive sleep apnea and various types of cancer. Currently, obesity is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States of America and many other developed nations round the globe. A number of European and American studies have shown that mortality risks are very low at a BMI of between 20 to 25 kg/m2 in people that do not smoke and at 24–27 kg/m2in people that smoke. The risk increases along with shifts in either direction. The same research has shown that a BMI above 32 doubles the rate of mortality among females aged above 16 years.
Causes of obesity
Excessive caloric intake coupled with a sedentary life is the most common cause of obesity among most obese people. A part from these common causes there a few cases of genetically caused obesity. Genetically obese people are predisposed to the condition due to their genetic make up. Other conditions may also be responsible for obesity, and these may include psychiatric illnesses, medications and endocrine disorders. Despite the genetic pre-disposure, the view that some people gain a lot of weight even with little caloric intake because of a slow metabolism is greatly limited; on average non-obese people have less energy expenditure compared to their fat counterparts because the fat people require more energy to maintain the bigger body mass. Reviews in 2006 identified another 10 potential contributors to the current rise in obesity. The causes include: (1) endocrine disruptors which influence lipid metabolism, (2) less sleep, (3) a high use of medications that increase the likelihood of being obese such as atypical antipsychotics, (4) the increase in close lineage individuals that tend to the condition, (5) pregnancy at a later age, higher BMI natural selection (6) reduced levels of smoking which is responsible for food intake suppression, (7) reduced variability of ambient temperature and (8) genetics. The research on these is inconclusive, but there is an established connection, though not as strong as the earlier stated causes.
Psychology and obesity
The mind over matter principle some how also reaches out to obesity and there is certainly some interactive or causal relation between a person’s emotions and mental state and his weight. The link is however complicated and not easy to explain. For example being in a state of stressful life or occupation may result in obesity. In conducted researches people that reported a single incident of job stress were at a 17% increased risk of being obese, and this rate increased with the reported cases of increased stress.
Depression which is also one of the psychological conditions has a link to obesity, but the link is inconsistent and uncertain. There is significant prove that people at times may engage in overeating when they are stressed, this acts as a form of self medication for them. This is however inconclusive because some people in stress have been known to greatly reduce their eating and in return reduce much of their weight. Researches in to preferences of obesity have also shown that people would rather prefer many other conditions rather than be obese, and this gives a conclusive look that indeed there is a great connection between obesity and psychology.
Prior to the 20thcentury the condition was rare world-wide, but in 1997 the World Health Organization made a formal recognition of obesity as a global epidemic. In 2005 the organization made projections that showed that at least 9.8% (400 million) adults were obese, but with a higher rate amongst women than men. Early revelations that still hold to the moment show that obesity rates almost double with age advance and the condition increases with age, with most cases being reported in people aged between 50 and 60. Obesity also develops differently in nations based on their development status; with the highest rates being recorded in the world’s most developed nations such as the United States of America, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. Obesity in these nations is also developing at a faster rate than usual. Apparently obesity seems to follow development wherever it goes. In earlier days it was considered a condition of the developed world, but as time has moved the condition is now moving on to the developing world, where it is more prevalent in the urban set up. The development of fast food chain restaurants and improper dieting has been greatly blamed for the development and advance of the condition.
Management of obesity
There is no specific treatment for obesity, but rather a combination of measures that are meant to meant to cut back on the conditions that are implicated in the cause of obesity. However, the two most major approaches are dieting and the engagement in an active exercising life. The reduction in caloric intake is meant to cut back on weight gain, whereas an exercise program is meant to cut back on any already gained weight. Dieting and exercise have been known to be effective in weight reduction, but their effect does not last as long as they are withdrawn. Thus weight maintenance requires a constant maintenance of development of a lasting habit that is developed over time and cultured into the life of an individual. As such there is no medical prescription for any obese cases. There may be drugs that may be recommended for the condition, but these are not as effective and they often lead to complication in the gastrointestinal system. The most effective cited treatment for the condition so far is bariatric surgery which is recommended for severe obesity cases. However, the high cost of this method makes it impossible for access to most people and thus making it less available to many.
Examples Projects formulated for obesity reduction
The CMA (California Medical Association Foundation is one of the active bodies dedicated towards fighting obesity in the state of California. The main purpose of CMA is to cut back the prevalence of overweight cases among children and their families. The body also carries an overall task of educating the public on the condition. However, its major focus is on preventing obesity among the young population. The CMA carries out three major tasks in the course of its planned action. The first involves education and community outreach. The CMA educates the general public on obesity and all the possible related conditions. The only challenge in this case is that its training is narrowly focused on the young population and not the overall public and multitude that is affected by the condition. The second approach that CMA uses is policy advocacy. In this case the organization publicly advocates for policies that would lead to the reduction of obesity in the community among the young aged people.
Shortcomings of CMA and potential improvements
CMA is very essential due to the fact that it provides essential education on the prevention of obesity amongst the young population. However, it fails in the provision of public examples and instructions on the physical and practical aspect of it. The communities may have the physical facilities, but lack know how on how to practically put them to use. Therefore, there is a need for CMA to seek for practical technical support from people that can go out and physically train the community on how to implement some measures such as physical exercise because these are practical and much more than just simple instruction and education. Therefore, there is a need for CMA to incorporate a more physical and practical approach rather than a theoretical approach.
Lifestyle change as the major effective approach
It is essential for the populace to be made aware that most of the causes of obesity are lifestyle related and not conditions that result from pre-disposure. Therefore, it is essential for people to change their lifestyle accordingly in order to avoid this condition. The areas of emphasis and concentration should be diet control and the use of exercise as the major areas of obesity control. This should incorporate the induction of an active life and a reduction of caloric intake as the major areas of control.