“Smoking Kills”, we all know it since our childhood. But do you know that Overweight and Obesity are causing more deaths worldwide than Smoking, traffic accidents, and terrorism? although hard to believe but It’s a bitter reality.
Obesity is a disease itself and also the root cause of many potentially life-threatening chronic ailments. It is directly associated with increased risk of disability and premature death due to type 2 diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems (like heart attack and stroke), hyperlipidemias, dementia, and osteoarthritis. It is also one of the major risk factors for developing cancer in the prostate, breast, ovaries, uterus, kidney, colon, and gall bladder.
Obesity has many psychological implications due to concerns regarding body image and bullying leading to depression and even suicide in extreme cases. Obesity is one of the causes of subfertility in women. Pregnancy in obese ladies is also labeled as High Risk because of increased chances of developing several pregnancy-related complications like gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced hypertension, infections, preterm delivery, birth injuries to newborns, surgical complications, etc. Childhood obesity is also showing rising trends all over the world and is linked with grave outcomes like increased risk of developing non-communicable diseases at a younger age and consequently early deaths.
Worldwide obesity rates have increased exponentially in recent decades. It’s prevalence nearly tripled since 1975. It has taken the form of a global epidemic that is affecting both developed and developing countries. According to WHO, 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older are overweight around the globe. Most of the world population lives in countries where overweight and obesity kill more people than underweight.
Statistics show, one quarter (25%) of the population of Pakistan is overweight which means every fourth Pakistani falls in this category. Isn’t it Alarming? Then why are we not taking any action to control this morbid condition? Actually in our society obesity is generally considered as a sign of well being and a symbol of high social status. For women, it is also considered acceptable to become obese after having children that’s why obesity is more common in women than men. Our doctors and the general public are also not identifying obesity as a disease, as a result of not managing it effectively.
As we all know “Prevention is better than Cure”, so public health strategies should be devised to combat this serious but preventable problem. Both individual and community level efforts are required to control this epidemic.
First, we have to raise awareness in the general public about the serious health implications of being fat. And make them understand the difference between being healthy and being obese. Explain to them that most of the overweight people are malnourished because of eating unhealthy caloric rich food that is low in vital nutrients. We must introduce them to a healthy lifestyle comprising of mindful eating and regular exercise. These awareness campaigns should be started on social media including newspapers and television commercials.
Kids should be taught in early years at school about healthy cooking, the benefits of physical activities, and optimum sleep. Junk food and sweetened beverages should be strictly banned in schools, colleges, and hostels. Students should be encouraged to bring healthy homemade breakfast and lunch with them. The subject of Nutrition and Physical education should be made compulsory for all high school students. In this way, we can inculcate the mindfulness and habits of healthy life choices in the next generation.
Preventative clinics should be established to serve at the community level. Doctors and dietitians should work hand in hand to educate the general public regarding the hazards of eating energy-dense foods and a sedentary lifestyle. They should also guide them in devising and following practical, affordable, and healthy diet plans to prevent and control obesity and its complications. A sedentary lifestyle should be discouraged. The expertise of psychologists would also be additional support for motivation and combating depression in overweight people.
The government should ensure accessibility and availability of healthy and nutritious food choices at affordable prices for the general public. Restrictions should be implemented on the marketing of foods rich in sugars, salt, and fats. It should be prohibited to display unhealthy foods in front of aisles in shops and utility stores.
More Parks and tracks should be constructed. 5 k and 10k races should be organized at the community level on regular basis. Other physical activities including cycling should also be promoted. Separate events and championships for ladies and kids should also be arranged to make it convenient for them to participate.
So, what are you waiting for? Start today and adopt a healthy living style for longevity.