Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Alarming health statistics - Obesity

Obesity is now being perceived as a bigger threat to health than smoking, drinking and poverty. It has reached alarming proportions in United States with a sharp increase in the number of obese people.

Rand Corporation, a reputed organization in the field of research and analysis, published a report on obesity and the health risks that they face. This research was based on a truly representative sample and was conducted by an in-house health economist and psychiatrist. The inferences drawn are indeed startling and deserve the attention of the US government. If nothing else, it should encourage obese people to seek weight loss solutions for themselves.

The research touched upon the following issues:

Health risks of obesity as compared to those of smoking, drinking and poverty.
Expenditure on health by obese people and those with normal weight.
The significant increase in the number of obese individuals.
The epidemic proportions that obesity has reached can be gauged by the fact that 23% of Americans are obese and 36% are overweight. This means that an alarming percentage of 59% of the population is in dire need of weight loss solutions. The prevalence of heavy drinkers, smokers and those living in poverty are only 6%, 19% and 14%.

The effects of being overweight surface approximately after 10 to 30 years of being overweight and obese. Obesity may be classified based on the Body Mass Index of an individual; body mass index is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.

Mild Obesity - BMI of 30+

Morbid Obesity - a BMI of 40+

Malignant Obesity - a BMI of 50+

The number of obese people has increased by 60% in the last two decades. As chronic conditions take some time to develop, it is likely that the above figure is actually underestimates the impending chronic disease incidence in the future. The fact remains that the percentile risk of premature death of an obese person is directly proportionate to his/her weight.

Per the research, “obese people suffer from an increase in chronic conditions by approximately 67 percent.” The corresponding figures for “normal-weight daily smokers is only 25 percent; and for normal-weight heavy drinkers, only 12 percent.” The research equates obesity with the normal aging process. This indirectly means that obese people age before their time. The only segment that compares with obesity is poverty and has a 58% increase in chronic diseases.

Obesity is also a heavy burden on personal budgets. An obese individual spends 36% more on health services as compared to people of average weight. Daily smokers and heavy drinkers spend an excess of 21% and 14% respectively. The extra cost that is spent on medication is even more alarming. Obese individuals spend 77% more on medications than non-obese people.

With information available about the consequences of obesity and the solutions, it is surprising that more people don’t take proactive actions to avoid the condition. It seems that the most obvious reason for not doing anything about excess weight and obesity is a lack of motivation. Maybe what is required is hard-hitting social advertisement that points out the ill effects and motivates the public towards weight loss solutions. An improved lifestyle, a natural weight loss program or an herbal weight loss diet are all effective ways of improving of this condition that has reached epidemic proportions.



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