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Obesity and Nutrition - Research Paper Example

7 pages
1833 words
George Washington University
Type of paper: 
Research paper
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Obesity remains a significant health threat to millions of people in the world. As a result of obesity, the affected persons are exposed to other numerous chronic and non-fatal diseases. The latter happens as a result of obesity bringing negative metabolic impacts on essential body aspects such as blood pressure, insulin, triglycerides, and cholesterol. Some common non-fatal conditions brought by obesity include skin diseases, infertility, musculoskeletal issues, and respiratory complications. On the other hand, the chronic health problems associated with obesity include diabetes, gallbladder disease, hypertension, and some types of cancer. Obesity occurrence has been on the rise in many parts of the world which is a cause for alarm. However, the blame can be imposed on the poor lifestyles and feeding habits that people in the contemporary world have adopted. Many researches have continued being conducted to try and devise better methods of addressing the prevalence of obesity. The assessment of the epidemiology, etiology, and scientific evidence remains crucial in procuring various approaches that are relevant in tackling obesity.


According to the World Health Organization (2017), obesity and overweight is the excessive accumulation of normal adiposity that may trigger health complications. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is the commonly used standard for assessing whether an individual is obese or overweight. The BMI is defined as the ratio of an individual's weight to their height in square meters. As further indicated by WHO (2017), a BMI equivalent to or higher than twenty-five is considered overweight while that equal or greater than thirty is regarded as obese. While BMI is supposed to be the most useful tool for checking obesity and overweight issues, it is recommendable to consider that it as a rough tool since it may fail to tally with the actual degree of fat that an individual holds in the body. The table below indicates the BMI classification and the risk of an individual contracting weight-related diseases. The information presented was derived from Hainer and Aldhoon-Hainerova (2013).

Classification BMI Comorbidities Risk

Underweight 18.5 Reduced risk

Normal weight 18.6-24.9 Average

Overweight 25-29.9 High

Obese 30 Severe

It has been reported that since the mid-1970s, the global incidence of obesity has almost tripled which poses a great concern to the current and future generations. The statistics given by WHO (2017) indicate that by 2016, there were more than one and a half billion adults who were overweight. Out of this population, close to six hundred and fifty million were obese. Based on these statistics, it can be calculated that approximately 39 percent of adults are overweight while 13 percent are obese. Furthermore, the organization indicates that more than forty million children below the age of five years were either overweight or obese. Between the ages of five and nineteen years, there were about three hundred and forty million children and teenagers who were either overweight or obese. Given these statistics, it can be seen clearly that obesity is a significant health concern that needs to be addressed due to its numerous adverse implications. The initial indicators that obesity had become a global concern were sighted in Europe and the American continents.

While a few of the developed nations have made significant efforts in the prevention and reduction of obesity occurrence, the prevalence of the condition has continued to increase in many other world parts (Chan & Woo, 2010). Many developed countries such as Japan, UK, and the United States have exhibited a rising cases of obesity. Even in developing nations such as China, the obesity occurrence has been on the rise as indicated by Chan and Woo (2010) that it increased from 3.7% to 19.2% between 19882 and 2002. Given such increments in the occurrence of obesity, many countries have continued to spend a lot of resources in addressing health complications related to the condition.

The prevalence and occurrence of obesity has been on the increase across the world population. However, the distribution of the condition differs extensively within as well as across nations. Swinburn, Caterson, Seidell, and James (2004) report that the obesity pandemic cuts across populations consistently which reflects inversely in high and low-income nations. The latter means that obesity in the low-income regions is often associated with people who are economically well-off. On the other hand, in the developed countries, it is mostly related to people in the low socioeconomic status. It is also essential to remain aware that the prevalence and occurrence of obesity may also vary significantly according to sex and age among several other factors.

The continuous adoption of newer technologies and the westernized lifestyles have been primarily blamed for the extensive prevalence of obesity. The advanced techniques, as well as the approval of the poor western cultures, have significantly affected how people act and eat. Nutrition plays a vital role in increasing the likeliness of being obese, and therefore, the poor dietary intake has played a significant part in promoting the spread of obesity (Fleming et al., 2014). The life expectancy has slightly improved as a result of control over the infectious diseases, reduction in malnutrition, and improvement in hygiene (Swinburn et al., 2004). Nonetheless, despite the elimination of these diseases, they have been replaced by new health threats such as obesity which brings a lot of complicated health conditions.

Many studies have cited the dietary transition that has resulted from the rapid technological change and urbanization as the primary cause of the obesity pandemic. It has been observed that there has been a global shift in the food consumption pattern that has triggered the rise of obesity. Some of the significant changes that have been seen include the consumption of foods with high sugar and fat contents and reduction in vegetable and fruit intake. Furthermore, these dietary shifts have been accompanied by other unhealthy lifestyles such as reduced physical activities as a result of the increased mechanization. However, the changes in nutrition have been the most significant contributors to the increasing rates of obesity across various regions of the world.

Obesity Etiology

Various issues are pertinent to the high occurrence of obesity globally. Therefore, it is vital to evaluate the significant causes of obesity before drawing the best policies to use in addressing this health threat. The detailed study of the causes of obesity remains essential since it provides relevant information that can be used by medics as well as healthy or affected persons. Nonetheless, it has been long established that the primary cause of obesity is the poor lifestyles that people have adopted. These lifestyles have impacted people's daily lives regarding movements, dietary intakes, and other aspects.

Figure 1: Factors that promote or reduce weight gain (Swinburn et al., 2004)

Major cause obesity is the increase in calorie intake. Calories are the units of measure of the energy amount contained in the foods and drinks that people consume. The calories intake varies across according to the gender. On the one hand, men require approximately 2500 kcal while on the other hand, women need 2000 kcal on a daily basis to maintain a healthy body (Hainer & Aldhoon-Hainerova, 2013).. However, these amounts are not consistent, and they may be influenced by the age, body size, and physical activities among many other factors. As such, when people have a higher calorie intake than they utilize, the extra calories are stored in the body as fat. The gradual accumulation of this fat in the body tissues leads to the increase in body weight, which if not controlled, leads to overweight or obesity in the long-run.

The decreased utilization of energy as a result of reduced physical activities is also a considerable cause of obesity. The consumption of foods, more so those rich in starch, is associated withthe buildup of energy in the body which needs to be utilized (Bray & Bouchard, 2014). However, given that many people have formal jobs that involve sitting behind a desk, for the most part, they tend to use little of this energy. Furthermore, during traveling, whether short or long distances, people have become confined to using vehicles rather than walking or cycling. The latter reduces their physical activity which brings a high risk of becoming obese. Furthermore, instead of using free times to engage in physical activities such as jogging, swimming, or exercising in the gym, people have adopted other unhealthy habits that do not involve a lot of physical activities. For instance, many people use their free times watching TV programs and movies, browsing, and playing computer games among others. Therefore, the decline in physical activities increases the amount of energy being stored in the body as fat which leads to weight problems, more so obesity.

Additionally, poor dietary intake is also a significant cause of obesity. Nowadays, people have adopted poor nutritional intakes that have taken a toll on their health. Diets constitute a significant aspect in determining the health welfare of an individual. In this case, obesity can be caused by a variety of poor dietary intakes such as eating large amounts of fast or processed foods that have high sugar and fat contents (Bray & Bouchard, 2014). Alcohol consumption has also been labeled as a significant cause of weight issues due to its high-calorie content. Furthermore, overeating food is also another dietary concern that may lead to overweight or obese problems. Consuming large quantities of foods may be caused by various issues among them pressure from friends and family, and low self-esteem and other psychological issues. Unhealthy eating habits may be learned from ones parents since they were young or take them up as a result of external pressures such as tight work schedules.

Other causes of obesity that are worth mentioning include medical reasons and hereditary factors. Several medications have been associated with causing obesity. For instance, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, as well as some diabetes drugs (Bray & Bouchard, 2014). However, the rationale for weight gain for each medication varies significantly. Other than these drugs, conditions such as hypothyroidism and Cushings syndrome are also secondary causes of obesity. Hypothyroidism leads to the reduction in the production of hormones by the thyroid gland. On the other hand, Cushing's syndrome is a sporadic condition that leads to the excessive production of steroid hormones.

Scientific Evidence

Over time, a lot has been gained from the research of obesity. More so, the molecular restrictions of appetite which affects glucose metabolism as well as the energy balance during homeostasis. Additionally, obesity also plays a crucial part in cellular metabolism dysregulation that contributes to the occurrence of diabetes mellitus type 2 as reported by (Redinger, 2007). However, the analysis of how these conditions thrive as a result of obesity is of great importance. Various aspects of the body and externally are relevant in explaining why obesity causes other health conditions. Furthermore, how the fat builds up in the body as a result if the poor dietary intake and other causes are also relevant in this study.

The storage of excessive energy in the body in the form of fat is seen as an essential process. These fats are vital during periods when an individual may be faced with starvation. However, if such starvation conditions are not reached, then the accumulation of these fats needs to be minimized sinc...

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