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Obesity Facts & Figures

Unless you have been living under a rock for the past few years, you will probably know that obesity is on the rise.

Although, it is unlikely that you know just how fast it is rising. At the last count, worldwide obesity had doubled since the 1980s, and the rate shows no sign of slowing down any time soon too.

The Important Facts

As I said; worldwide obesity has doubled over the past forty years. Obesity is pretty much an epidemic now.

In 2008, the population worldwide was just shy of 7 billion. Around 1.4 billion of the people over the age of 20 at the time were what is regarded as overweight.

Just shy of 500 million of these people were regarded as obese, with a higher percentage being women.

Each year, almost 3 million people around the world die of obesity-related conditions.

This means that it is one of the biggest killers globally (5th biggest killer, although I have no doubt that this is going to rise).

Being overweight actually kills more people than being underweight does.

The conditions that cause death vary too.

For example; did you know that between 7% and 41% of certain cancers are related to being obese?

This means that it is likely that not everybody who dies due to obesity-related conditions is actually recorded as being obese. It is likely a far, far bigger killer than anybody could have thought.

Okay, let’s get a bit more positive now. The good thing is, despite obesity being categorized as a disease, it is 100% preventable.

If you are obese now, you can start to reduce the chances of you dying early as a result of the condition.

I am not going to lie, battling obesity is not going to be easy, but I confidently believe that absolutely everybody out there has the ability to combat it buried deep inside of them.

You just need to find the right amount of motivation.

The Definition of Obesity

While there are many different ‘metrics’ for calculating who is obese, perhaps the simplest metric that we can use is Body Mass Index, or BMI for short.

Your BMI is calculated by the following formula:

Your Weight (in KG) divided by your height in metres. You then divide this result again by your height in metres.

The normal range for a person should be between 18.5 and 25.

Between 25 and 30, you are regarded as overweight.

Anything above this is regarded as obese.

The Growing Obesity Problem

In the past, being obese was often linked to being in a high income country. You were more likely to be obese if your family had a substantial amount of money at their disposal.

However, obesity has changed rapidly since then.

Nowadays, while obesity is still linked to countries with a high income, we are starting to find that more and more people in developing countries have obesity-related issues too.

A lot of people are starting to become obese early on in their life.

For example; in developed countries, there are 10 million children dealing with obesity. However, in developing countries, this number is as high as 30 million.

Sadly, studies have demonstrated that the earlier in life somebody becomes obese, the more likely they are to keep that lifestyle up as time goes on.

This means that the problem is going to become more and more complicated to deal with. As I said; obesity is an issue which is certainly getting out of control.

What Has Caused The Increase in Obesity?

It is likely that a lot of the rise in obesity can be linked to the fact that people are no longer consuming the home-cooked meals that they did in the past. 

Processed foods are more popular than ever, and a lot of these are incredibly high in fat and sugar.

Our lifestyles are a lot different to what they were in the past too.

For example; many people are now using transportation to get around rather than walking. The areas we live are more urbanized too, which means that we need to travel less to get where we need to get.

Another significant change from the past is the rise in the percentage of sedentary jobs. People used to do a lot more physical work which is now being done by machines and robots.

Obviously, there may be other factors at play, but most of it boils down to the foods that we are eating and the lower amount of effort we are putting into exercise.

Remember; children these days are having a lot more fun playing (computer) games and the like rather than heading outside.

What Issues Can Obesity Cause?

As I mentioned previously; there are a number of conditions which are linked to obesity. Most of them are related to heart conditions.

However, diabetes is on the rise, and various musculoskeletal disorders are rising too.

Childhood obesity is a huge risk. If you are obese as a child, it results in a higher chance of early death in adulthood. This may be from heart conditions or high blood pressure.

How Can We Reduce Obesity?

Sadly, there isn’t a ‘quick’ solution to this. If you are obese, then you can probably start with the following:

Of course, working at an individual level is probably not going to be enough. There needs to be huge society-wide change.

For example; politics need to change.

One key ‘change’ that some countries have made (particularly the United Kingdom) has included the ‘sugar tax’ which makes it more expensive for people to buy sugar-laden foods, which may actually make it a lot easier for people to steer clear of them and buy the healthier options.

Some countries have also introduced programs to help people lose weight for free.

This is especially prevalent in countries with social healthcare, because in the long term, it saves the country trying to combat obesity early on as opposed to trying to eliminate the issues related to obesity later on in a person’s life.

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Article by:

Daniel DeMoss

I’m a personal trainer based in Denver (Matrix Gym) and a true fitness nerd. If I’m not training clients or working out at my home gym, I’m probably skiing, cycling or hiking with my dog Rufus.