The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese. In addition, 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischaemic heart disease burden and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity. Obesity has nearly doubled since 1980 which has led to it recently being recognised as a chronic disease.
Childhood obesity has also increased dramatically over the years and despite attempts to reduce childrens exposure to foods high in fats and sugars and encouraging more activity, the WHO reported that more than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.
The WHO definition of obesity is:
- a BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
- a BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity.
Obesity as a disease results in a:
- Decreased quality of life
- Increased cancer risk
- Increased incidence and worsening of co-morbid diseases: Type 2 diabetes; Hypertension; Dyslipidaemia; Cardiovascular disease (Coronary Artery Disease, Stroke, Congestive Heart Failure); Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (steatosis, steatohepatitis, cirrhosis); Respiratory disease (Obstructive sleep apnoea, Obesity-hypoventilation syndrome, Asthma); Osteoarthritis; Cholelithiasis; Gastroesophageal reflux disease; Cancers; Gynaecologic abnormalities (Infertility, Abnormal menses)
- Significantly decreased longevity
If your BMI is above 25, and you have a family history of any of the above mentioned co-morbidities, it is a good indication you should seek help. Studies indicate that even a modest weight loss of 5 – 10% of body weight, can improve blood pressure, fasting glucose levels, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol.