Astronomers say the universe is expanding. Apparently, so are the humans living on planet Earth. Why is obesity becoming a worldwide trend, and why should YOU be worried? Read on for all the need-to-know facts.
It’s no news; obesity has been recognised as a global epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1997. But according to the latest statistics from Overseas Development Institute, nearly 1.5 billion adults around the world are obese or overweight. That’s one-third of the world population or, to really put things into perspective, one in three adults.
The two main contributing factors shouldn’t come as a surprise – 1) according to the United Nations, the global consumption of fat, salt and sugar has increased exponentially over the past 30 years; and 2) our increasingly sedentary lifestyle (a recent study found that only one in three people in Singapore exercise on a regular basis!).
As much as we love to eat unhealthy processed foods and hate working up a sweat, the serious health implications – cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, etc. – of obesity ought to reshape the way we live. In fact, a WHO report states that nearly 2.8 million people worldwide die each year as a result of obesity.
Just recently, in a bid to fight obesity in Singapore, the Health Promotion Board launched the 1 Million kg Challenge – yep, the challenge is for Singaporeans to lose 1 million kilogrammes collectively. Coca-Cola Singapore has also recently launched Movement Is Happiness, a campaign that aims to highlight the emotional benefits of physical activity. But while it’s great that such initiatives are being rolled out, they would only be effective if we also adopt a positive attitude towards healthy living.
We speak to Dr Abel Soh, Specialist in Endocrinology & Consultant, Raffles Diabetes & Endocrine Centre, to find out more.
The Health Promotion Board recently launched the 1 Million kg Challenge in a bid to fight obesity in Singapore, whose rate has risen significantly over the years. What do you think has caused this spike?
The increasing rate of obesity is not only seen in Singapore alone but around the world. Many factors contribute to this trend but the two most important ones are dietary changes (consumption of a high-fat diet and overeating) and reduced physical activity or lack of exercise.
Apart from heart-related problems, what are some of the less-talked-about consequences of obesity?
Some of the less-talked-about consequences of obesity include high blood pressure (hypertension), high blood sugar level (diabetes mellitus), high cholesterol level, increased risk of stroke, gout, sleep apnea, arthritis of the knees and ankles, and urinary incontinence in women. Obesity is also associated with a higher risk of developing certain cancers – colon, prostate, breast, and endometrium.
For those of us who are overweight, what are some lifestyle changes we should adopt to lose the excess kilos?
In order to lose weight, lifestyle modification is crucial. This includes dietary changes with reduction in intake of calories with or without the use of meal replacement. Increasing energy expenditure through increased physical activity and exercise is important not only for weight loss but also for subsequent maintenance of a lower body weight.
What can friends do to help encourage us to do something about our weight without coming across as brusque?
Weight loss can be difficult for many individuals who are overweight or obese as it involves changes in behaviour and habits that have been formed over many years. Encouragement from family members and friends can certainly help to reinforce the new lifestyle changes needed for weight loss and weight maintenance. Family members and friends should avoid making judgemental statements about the individual’s weight or body shape. They can encourage the formation of new, healthy lifestyle changes by joining with the individual in eating healthily and engaging in regular exercise.
About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.
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