Overweight and obesity are an international epidemic that is wrecking havoc to the health of millions of people around the world. The consequences of overweight and obesity are enormous in terms of lives lost(death); people incapacitated(poor health, limitations in activity like sports, military etc ) and huge health care costs.
Overweight is here defined as a BMI (body mass index) greater than or equal to 25.
Obesity is defined as a BMI (body mass index) greater than or equal to 30.
The world health organization(WHO) estimates that world wide overweight and obesity have doubled since 1980. In 2014, more than 1.9 billion adults over the age of 18 years were overweight. In 2014, 41 million children under the age of 5 years were overweight. The consequences of overweight and obesity include diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Fortunately, overweight and obesity are preventable.
The western world introduced processed foods to the world and they are paying a price for it. The processed food products were touted as delicious, nutritious and finger-licking good. Supersized refined juices and sugary drinks(sodas or soft drinks) hit the market places like a tidal wave. People just rode the wave and gobbled these products down. The weight gain steadily rose, and the end result was this international epidemic.
So what can the developing world learn from this. More importantly what can they do about it.
1. Curb the appetite for processed foods like sweets(candies), sugary drinks(soft drinks or sodas, artificial juices). Encourage people to eat fruits, vegetables and drink water.
2.Curb the huge appetite for bread, especially white bread and sweet pastries. Encourage people to eat natural whole grain products–like what grandma used to make.
3.Cut down on meat, meat products and eggs. High cholesterol is not good for the heart.
4 Cut down on excessive use of salt. Salt is not good for blood pressure.
5. Curb the consumption of sugar and sugary drinks especially by young people. Encourage people to drink water.
6.There is an abundance of fruits and vegetables, domestic and wild, out there. The developing world would be better served if they encourage people to eat them instead of the processed foods. Governments should help people to grow their own fruits and vegetables. It would not only be good for their health but cost effective.
Follow a simple 5210 guide to nutrition and good health habits.
5-is for 5 fruits and vegetables a day
2-is for 2 hours or less of recreational screen time( i.e.TV, Computer ,games etc)
1-is for at least 1 hour of physical activity per day
. 0-is for zero sugary drinks. Drink more water or low fat milk.
7.Encourage women to breast feed their children. It has enormous health benefits.
8. Finally, get people moving. A sedentary life style is almost as deadly as a bad diet. Encourage people to exercise, walk and play sports
Obesity and overweight are preventable.
Ernest D. Simela, M.D.