Obesity as a Global Epidemic of the 21st Century: Causes, Effects and Ways to Combat It

What is OBESITY?

Obesity is a condition characterized by excessive body fat, which leads to metabolic disorders and an increased risk of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and respiratory diseases. Obesity is often referred to as a civilization disease and is a serious health problem worldwide.

Where does OBESITY come from?

Obesity can have a variety of causes, but in most cases it is due to an imbalance between calories consumed and calories consumed. This means that consuming too many calories relative to the needs of the body and not being physically active leads to the accumulation of body fat.

Other factors contributing to obesity include genetics, hormonal disorders, certain diseases, stress, poor lifestyle (lack of physical activity, sedentary work) and inadequate diet (consumption of high amounts of fats, simple sugars and highly processed foods).

What is the effect of genetics on obesity?

Genetic conditions play an important role in the occurrence of obesity. People who have overweight or obese parents are more likely to have weight problems themselves. There are many genes that affect the way the body processes and stores energy. However, this does not mean that obesity is simply a matter of heredity and cannot be controlled. Lifestyle factors such as unhealthy eating habits, lack of physical activity and stress also contribute to the development of obesity.

What hormonal disorders affect the development of obesity?

There are many hormonal disorders that can affect the development of obesity. Among them, the most important are:

  1. Insulin resistance – a condition in which the body’s cells stop responding to insulin, which regulates blood sugar levels. Insulin resistance leads to increased insulin production, which in turn promotes the accumulation of body fat.
  2. Hypothyroidism – a disease in which the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormones. This disorder slows down the body’s metabolism, which can lead to obesity.
  3. Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) – a hormonal disease that affects women and is characterized by menstrual disorders, overproduction of male sex hormones and insulin resistance. PCOS can lead to obesity and diabetes.
  4. Hyperadrenal cortex – a disease in which the adrenal cortex produces too much cortisol. A high level of cortisol increases appetite and promotes the accumulation of body fat.
  5. Growth hormone deficiency – this hormone is necessary for proper growth and development of the body. Its deficiency can lead to obesity, especially in children.

However, it is worth remembering that hormonal disorders are only one of many factors affecting the development of obesity. In most cases, obesity is caused by excessive calorie intake and lack of physical activity.

What are the health consequences of obesity?

Obesity is a disease that carries a number of serious health consequences. Below I present some of the most important ones:

  1. Cardiovascular disease: People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of heart disease, atherosclerosis, hypertension and blood vessel disease.
  2. Type 2 diabetes: Obesity is one of the most important risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes, a disease that leads to carbohydrate and insulin resistance disorders.
  3. Respiratory diseases: obese people are more at risk of breathing problems such as obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and sleep apnea.
  4. Digestive system problems: obese people are more likely to suffer from diseases of the pancreas, liver and biliary tract, as well as gallstones, heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux.
  5. Joint diseases: Overweight and obesity burden the joints, leading to a higher risk of diseases such as osteoarthritis.
  6. Depression and emotional problems: Obesity often leads to emotional problems and depression, which can impair quality of life and affect mental health.

These health consequences highlight the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including proper diet and regular physical activity, to avoid obesity and its serious health consequences.

What are the most up-to-date data on obesity epidemiology?

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data, more than 650 million people are obese and more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight. Moreover, the number of overweight and obese people is growing rapidly in all regions of the world, including developing countries. In Europe, in 2021, according to a report by the European Environment Agency, the obesity rate was over 20% in adults and 5-10% in children. In Poland, according to the GUS survey from 2019, about 60% of adults are overweight or obese, and the increase in the percentage of overweight and obese children is alarming.

Obesity is one of the most serious health problems of the modern world, increasing the risk of diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, as well as cancer. Therefore, the fight against obesity is crucial to maintaining good health and reducing the risk of many diseases.

That is why it is now so important to educate people about proper nutrition, health prevention and nutrition awareness around the world.

Nutrition and health education is key to combating obesity and other diet-related diseases. Knowledge about proper nutrition and healthy lifestyles should be widely available and easily assimilated by everyone. Unfortunately, many people in the world still struggle with problems related to improper diet and lack of physical activity.

That is why it is so important that nutritionists play a key role in the process of education and prevention of obesity. Nutritionists are able to identify individual nutritional needs and adapt diet plans to the specific needs of each person. Through education and dietary counseling, they can help people achieve healthy eating habits and lifestyles.

However, the role of dietitians in the fight against obesity does not end only at the individual level. Professionals in this field should also participate in social campaigns and educational projects to reach a wider audience. Their knowledge and experience can be used to develop prevention programmes and to train other health and nutrition professionals.

As part of the prevention and treatment of obesity, it is also necessary to raise awareness of the problems associated with overweight and obesity. This knowledge should cover not only the health consequences, but also the social and economic consequences. By understanding these issues, society can take appropriate action to reduce rates of obesity and related diseases.

Dietitians play a key role in the fight against obesity by spreading nutrition and health education and providing individual dietary advice. Their knowledge and experience are essential in the fight against diet-related diseases, which are a major health problem worldwide.

Therefore, consult a nutritionist as soon as possible for your health!

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