World Obesity Day 2017: How can we tackle obesity?

World Obesity Day was launched in 2015 to stimulate and support practical solutions to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight, and to reverse the obesity crisis. Every year World Obesity Day is observed on 11th October. The theme of the day for this year is ‘Act Now’.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health. People are generally considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, is over 30 kg/m2, with the range 25–30 kg/m2 defined as overweight. Some East Asian countries use lower values (23–27.5 kg/m2 ). Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases and conditions, particularly cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis and depression.

Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility. A few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications, or mental disorder. The view that obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is not generally supported. On average, obese people have greater energy expenditure than their normal counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass.

Obesity and its consequences are of serious concern for the world. The following statistics would alert all, if you look in depth.

* The number of adults suffering from overweight and obesity continues to rise. On current trends, 2.7 billion adults worldwide will suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025.

* Untreated, obesity is responsible for a significant proportion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and many types of cancer.

* If the obese people are treated appropriately, what is happening in most of the instances, the medical global bill for treating the diseases that follow directly from obesity is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion per year by 2025.

* In 2014, cost of obesity related treatment was at least US$ 2,000 billion (US$ 470 billion for cardiovascular diseases, US$ 398 billion for diabetes, US$ 355 billion for depression,  US$ 300 billion for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, US$ 166 billion for new cancer cases).

* Investing in the prevention, management and treatment of obesity is a cost-effective action for governments and health services. Investment can help achieve the 2025 targets set by the World Health Organisation to halt the rise in obesity and to achieve a 25% relative reduction in mortality from NCDs.

* To tackle obesity it is vital that everyone who wants treatment has access to the best services available. Treatment services around the world must be strengthened.

Obesity prevention actions will include:

* Education of the people to ensure popular support for creating healthy environments

* Improvement of local food environments to ensure easy access to affordable healthy food

* Improvement of local neighborhoods which support active leisure and travel

* Improving the market interventions to support and improve dietary choices

* Health promotion throughout the life course to protect the health of current and future generations.