Obesity is a common term that we hear nowadays, but most people associate it with outward appearance. In reality, it is something more than just ‘being fat’. Obesity is a medical condition where a person has accumulated an excessive amount of fat that causes alarming ill effects on his or her health. It is a major contributor to heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in India.
According to WHO, in the year 2016, 650 million adults out of the global population were obese. The obesity rate nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016. Recent statistics show a rise in death rates due to heart disease caused by obesity.
In Asia, a BMI greater than 30 is considered obese. Though obesity can be self-diagnosed, people often do not notice the dormant killer that slowly grows within them day by day. Usually, the weight gain is directly proportional to the stress that people face at work and the long working hours, which limit the physical activities. It is quite a chore to buy organic products; hence, we opt for easier options or ready to cook meals. We consider it all right to have an unhealthy lifestyle, as it is a pattern followed by everyone around us.
An unhealthy diet combined with a very little amount of exercise is a deadly combination that leads to a lot of health problems. Obesity causes high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cholesterol. These, in turn, leads to heart disease that can be fatal.
The strain or damage caused by these diseases causes a build-up of fat, cholesterol and other substances (called plaque) in the walls of the arteries. This narrows the arteries and slows down the blood flow to the heart. The plaque can later on rupture causing blood clots that result in heart disease.
There has also been a spike in obesity rates in children. In 2016, around 41 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight or obese. The rate of obesity among children and adolescents aged 5-19 has risen dramatically from just 4% in 1975 to 18% in 2016.
Parents feel the need to keep the children nourished and have a general idea that children won’t develop adult health issues. Hence, they do not impose diet restrictions on their children. Many parents mistake obesity to be ‘baby fat’ and neglect treating it. This can cause cardiovascular diseases in the children once they grow into adults and even premature death if left untreated.
Heart disease can be deadly if not treated immediately once it sets in. Once a person develops heart disease, they have to be extremely cautious with the lifestyle they follow in order to avoid invasive procedures. Whereas, treating obesity is easier and non-invasive. Bariatric surgery is performed only in cases where the BMI exceeds 35 and the person shows serious weight-related problems.
Obesity is one of the very few conditions that have the cheapest treatment- a healthy lifestyle. Set aside an hour this weekend to jot down how you can make your lifestyle better. It can be taking the stairs instead of the lift, walking to nearby shops instead of using vehicles, avoiding snacks in between meals, reducing the portion of meals etc.
Self-control plays a major role in tackling obesity. A person on the heavier side can take some measures to avoid developing heart disease. Following a low-fat diet (avoid meat and junk food) and opting for fruits, vegetables, wholegrain cereals instead will help reduce weight. Exercise is a must to keep heart disease at bay.
About 3 decades ago, we didn’t see so many health concerns. Perhaps if we could take a leaf or two out of our parents’ or grandparents’ book, it will be easier for us to lead a healthy lifestyle. Being healthy is glamorous after all!
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“He who cures a disease may be the skill-fullest, but he that prevents it is the safest physician.”
― Thomas Fuller
Note: Statistical reference – https://www.who.int/