Do you know a person who has type 2 diabetes? Perhaps at risk of cardiovascular disease? Maybe even some musculoskeletal conditions or a form of cancer? This person may have one of these illnesses and they may also suffer from obesity. Obesity has been defined by the National Institutes of Health as a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 30 and above, and it can critically influence people’s state of health. Obesity is the condition of being too heavy for one's height so that a person’s health is affected. In other words, it means to be too overweight. Good morning everyone, I’m Abbi and I will be discussing how obesity is a major influence on people’s state of overall health. Firstly, I’ll start with the significant causes of obesity, following with chronic diseases that obesity can lead to, and finishing up with the effects of obesity on people’s mental health.
There are a variety of factors that stop people from avoiding obesity, and they are generally poor diet, environmental and other lifestyle choices. Obesity is diagnosed when your BMI is 30 or higher. In 2017-18, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey showed that two thirds of adults in Australia, or 67%, were overweight or obese which is a 3.6% increase from 2015-16. 24.9% of children aged 5-17 were overweight or obese in 2017-18. Although there are genetic, behavioural, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you consume more calories than what you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. The imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure are the two main factors that lead to being overweight and obese. The amount of food each person needs varies by age, gender, body size, and level of physical activity. Your body converts proteins, carbohydrates and fats in food into energy, and fat is the most concentrated source of energy. Energy expenditure is the amount of energy, or calories a person uses daily to complete normal activities and physical activity. Your total daily energy expenditure is the total amount of calories you’ve burned throughout the day. The human body uses energy in three ways: basal metabolism (energy used to maintain vital bodily processes such as breathing or circulating blood), thermic processes (energy taken to absorb and digest food), and physical activity (energy used for movement).
Being overweight or obese can inhibit the ability to control or prevent several chronic diseases that are linked to obesity. These include heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnoea, and certain cancers. These medical issues can be caused by obesity and it deteriorates health and can even lead to death. Poor lifestyle choices such as smoking, overuse of alcohol, poor diet, and a lack of physical activity are the root causes for the development of preventable chronic diseases. A healthy diet significantly contributes to a healthy weight, quality of life and wellbeing, and prevent the risk of chronic disease and premature death. The Australian Dietary Guidelines provide recommendations to address the dietary risks that subsidise to obesity. The Guidelines have grouped foods together which share similar nutrients and we know these as the five core food groups. These are: grains and cereals, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and lean meats. Data from a Victorian Health Survey in 2014 shows that only 4.4% of adults met both the fruit and vegetable dietary guidelines. While dietary guidelines in Australia exist, Australians’ diets have a high intake of discretionary foods, which are often high in fats, sugars, salt and alcohol, along with insufficient intake of foods that contribute to health and wellbeing. These are significant risk factors for chronic disease.
Finally, obesity is known to trigger several psychological disorders such as depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and low self-esteem. European studies show that children with obesity face a 63% higher chance of getting bullied. When children and young adults get victimised for their weight it can be a stigma to feelings of shame and anxiety, which can lead to depression, low self-esteem, poor body image and even suicide. Research over the years has shown that mental health and obesity are linked, and some are considering that obesity is a mental health illness and suggests people with depression develop metabolic illnesses. People may consume large amounts of “comfort foods” which are high in sugars, sodium, fats and calories because they are anxious, lonely or suffering from low self-esteem.
With a growing population and the high availability of cheap unhealthy foods along with the thousands of advertisements almost everywhere you go, watch on the tv or hear on the radio, it is easy to say young children and the rest of today’s society have a lack of nutritional education. Nutrition is an important factor of healthy daily lives however; children and adults are not taught on how to eat the right foods in the right proportions. Nutrition education is extremely important for children as it forms them to make the right decisions about what the consume when they reach their teenage years and adulthood.