Obesity is a condition where the excessive fat accumulates in the body to extreme levels, and adversely affects the health of the person. It is caused by a variety of nutritional health complications. It affects people from both developed and developing nations. According to Maria and Evagelia (2009), the obesity incidences have been increasing at an alarming rate due to environmental factors influencing genetic pathological predisposition. The Body Mass Index (BMI) is globally recognized as the index in estimating body weight which allows health practitioners to compare the prevalence rates. BMI, therefore, has been applied in acknowledging that obesity is a contributing factor towards the development of chronic and serious health conditions, which include cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, heart failure, diabetes, stroke, dyslipidemia and sleep apnea. Obesity is the main factor that causes sleep apnea, which often leads to sudden deaths. In this research, the obesity-related diseases are reviewed and explored, and the treatments for the eating disorder are discussed.
Obesity as a chronic disease is spreading across the globe and is considered to be public health concern. The obesity phenomenon has been drawing the attention of scientific organizations and the government, as it adversely affects the lives of the patients. This problem imposes a huge burden on health care systems. Health sciences have also taken a keen interest in obesity as an eating disorder as it has prevalence, risk factors, and significant consequences on the quality of life of the patient. Obesity is proven to be associated with an increased incidence of diabetes mellitus, arthritis, coronary heart diseases, hypertension, sleep apnea and cancer. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies obesity as a chronic and severe eating disorder affecting children and adults on the global platform. The recent research data on obesity as provided by WHO affirmed that obesity incidence has tripled in the last twenty years. The research also stated that a large number of persons with obesity are located in developing nations, especially in people with low incomes. Thus, at least one billion adults are obese and more than 300 million are suffering from its adverse effects (Maria & Evagelia, 2009).
The International Obesity Task Force estimated that 1.7 billion people are exposed to health risks associated with obesity and recorded that 2.5 million people died due to high BMI. The mortality rate due to obesity and its associated diseases are bound to double by 2030. The incidence of obesity significantly varies among the different regions. For example, Europe records higher incidence of obesity in Southern, Central, and Eastern regions. England has also been recording an increase in the number of people suffering from obesity. Considering its global span, obesity should be identified as a disease threatening the public health of numerous nations (Maria, & Evagelia, 2009).
Causes of Obesity
According to Ezquerra, Vázquez and Barrero (2008), obesity is caused by the interaction of genetic factors, body weight, and environmental factors. Obesity occurs after fat accumulates in the human body beyond the required amounts and it adversely affects the normal body functions. The fat accumulation leads to weight gain. Essential fats sustain normal bodily functions. The storage of fats is found in the bone marrow, lungs, heart, liver, spleen, muscles, and also in the subcutaneous tissues which provide additional energy to the body. The fats stored in the breasts and hips of females are also identified as essential fats.
According to Maria and Evagelia (2009), the total body fat among healthy young adults should range between 15% and 20% of an individual’s total body weight. The body fat, however, is more among women at the range between 20% and 25% of total body weight. The fat distribution can be of two types, namely central or android type, and regional or female type. In central obesity, which mainly affects men, fat is accumulated in the upper torso especially the abdomen of the individual. In regional obesity, which is mainly observed among women, the fat is accumulated in the hips and thighs. Central obesity is associated with greater health risks such as increased incidence of cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes which can lead to sudden fatalities. The severity of central and regional obesity should, therefore, be estimated by comparing the total amount of fat and the fat distributed in an individual’s body (Pischon, Nöthlings & Boeing, 2008).
BMI is a common, easy, and reliable way of measuring, classifying, and comparing the types of obesity among people. The high correlation between fat percentage and BMI, however, should not be applied in providing information about the weight of bones and muscle tissues. BMI gives the mathematical interpretation of obesity. BMI can be arrived at by dividing body weight to the second power of the height. The BMI of a normal person ranges between 20 kg/cm2 and 25 kg/cm2. An individual of BMI 40 kg/cm2 is characterized as an extremely obese patient likely to suffer from various chronic conditions including cancer (Ezquerra, Vázquez & Barrero, 2008).
Diseases Associated with Obesity
A person suffering from obesity experiences adverse health conditions in all aspects of life, as the disorder is associated with a wide range of diseases. According to Maria and Evagelia (2009), scientific data reveals that a higher BMI indicates a higher risk of morbidity. To decrease the morbidity risk, people ought to lose weight. Persons suffering from diabetes mellitus are also likely to be obese. The authors assert that at least 70-80% of persons with type 2 diabetes also suffer from obesity, which is a strong risk factor in the development of the disorder. Thus, as a person’s BMI increases, the likelihood of developing diabetes mellitus also increases. After weight loss, however, the risk levels decrease as metabolic control improves the further life expectancy.
Since 1998, the American Society of Cardiology has been ascertaining obesity as a vital independent factor causing coronary heart diseases (Maria & Evagelia, 2009) in men and women. These cardiovascular risk levels increase especially among elderly men with dyslipidemia. The risk factors also increase as obesity causes biochemical and clinical disorders such as hypertension and hyperglycemia. In recent times, the importance of visceral fat has been identified as the detrimental effect of obesity. The other prominent effect includes the endocrine function of adipose tissues which produce abundant chemicals that modify the vascular, immune, metabolic, and cardiovascular functions. As fat accumulates, it causes an increase in the volume of cardiac cavities and the heart wall. Conversely, as fat reduces, the adverse effects on cardiac functions also decline. Thus, an increase in body fat stimulates heart activities causing cardiac hypertrophy in the long run due to myocardial adaptation to the enhanced requirements. The increased work also leads to fatigue and eventually heart failure (Maria, & Evagelia, 2009).
Treatment of Obesity
According to Pischon, Nöthlings and Boeing (2008), obesity in combination with predisposing factors can increase the incidence of cancer. The mortality rates due to prostate and colon cancer have been increasing among obese men. Obese women also suffer from endometrium, cervix, breast, uterus, ovary, and gall bladder cancer. Diet and endocrine disorders are the two factors linking obesity to cancer. Poor diet can lead to gastrointestinal cancer while endocrine disorders can cause hormone-related cancer. People should work out and embrace a healthy diet to ensure healthy body weight and ideal BMI, and hence reduce the risk of obesity and cancer.
The most common, easy, and applicable measure for treating obesity is proper diet and physical exercise. Medication should be implemented only if these two measures have failed. Medication is necessary if the individual is likely to relapse following a strict diet program and regular exercise. It should be noted that the medication can cause diverse side effects. The short-term and long-term treatment of obesity should involve decreased cholesterol intake coupled with regular and vigorous physical exercises by the patients (Maria, & Evagelia, 2009).
Obesity should be identified as a severe disorder causing functional and morphological complications with high morbidity and mortality risks. It affects every aspect of the patients’ life by causing low self-esteem, health complications as well as deleterious effects on the socioeconomic status. The government spends huge financial assets in treating obesity as well as other diseases associated with the eating disorder. The patients should be encouraged to seek medical help to reduce the associated morbidity and mortality rates. More importantly, the public should embrace proper balanced diets and regular physical exercise to prevent the health hazard of obesity.
Ezquerra, E., Vázquez, M. & Barrero, A. (2008). Obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes: Cardiovascular implications and therapy. Revista Española de Cardiología, 61(7), 752-64.
Maria, P. & Evagelia, S. (2009). Obesity Disease. Health Science Journal, 3(3), 132-38.
Pischon, T., Nöthlings, U. & Boeing, H. (2008). Obesity and cancer. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society, 67(2), 128-45.