National Day Against Obesity: an epidemic we can't run away from

Tomorrow, we celebrate the National Day Against Obesity. Obesity is defined as an excess of adipose tissue (fat) over lean mass (muscle, bones, and organs) in a proportion that can affect health.

It’s considered a chronic disease because it’s a long last condition that requires ongoing medical attention and usually limits activities of daily living.

It occurs when the intake of calories is more significant than those expended. When this happens, the energy balance is said to be positive, and as a result, the body stores the extra calories in the form of fat mass. This is associated, for example, with a sedentary lifestyle and a diet rich in refined cereals, sugars, and saturated fats.

Obesity has multifactorial causes - environmental, metabolic, genetic, cultural, psychological, and behavioural influences.

Mental health plays a central role in keeping your body healthy. Obesity is largely related to unconscious conflicts related to abandonment, separation, or threat. Sports, and playing sports within a significant community (family, friends, colleagues) contributes to preventing this disease through proving an experience that contributes to:

  • Maintain a culture of self-care
  • Strengthen significant bonds
  • Create memories that support and protect us in breakdowns, both mentally and physically
  • Develop social and interpersonal skills
  • Deepen our inner conscience about our body
  • And other benefits


The WHO report for Europe 2022

The World Health Organization (WHO) regional group for Europe recently released the WHO European Regional Obesity Report 2022, claiming that obesity is an epidemic on this side of the world. The good news is that the report concludes that this epidemic is "reversible" despite its severity level.

The report reveals that in Europe, 58.7% of citizens are overweight, and 23.3% are obese. None of the WHO's 53 European member states is "on track to meet the WHO’s target of halting the rise in obesity by 2025".

Obesity and mental health decline are usually related. The WHO also emphasizes the elevated risk of asthma, muscle pain, cardiovascular diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, and even 13 different types of cancer, such as breast and thyroid cancer, associated with being overweight.

In the 2022 report on obesity, the WHO reveals that being overweight leads to 1.2 million deaths annually in Europe, "corresponding to more than 13% of total mortality in the Region".


How is the diagnosis made?

This disease has environmental, metabolic, genetic, cultural, psychological, and behavioural factors at its origin. This type of process, which leads the body to store calories in the form of fat, can be a trigger for various diseases.

Since the proportion of the level of obesity is directly related to its dangerousness, careful weight monitoring is recommended.

The disease diagnosis is made using the Body Mass Index (BMI) analysis as a starting point. It is the most used technique to evaluate the degree of obesity in adults. Excess weight starts at a BMI of 25, and obesity is declared when the value is equal to or greater than 30.

Body Mass Index is a simple calculation using a person’s height and weight. The formula is BMI = kg/m2 (where kg is a person’s weight in kilograms) and m2 is their height in metres squared.

  • Overweight BMI= 25
  • Pre-obesity BMI= 25 - 29,9
  • Obesity BMI= 30
    • Class 1 = 30 - 34,9
    • Class 2 = 35 - 39,9
    • Class 3 = 40<

Measuring waist circumference is another critical issue in this disease and can be used to assess nutritional status and risk of cardiovascular events.

Waist circumference measurements are associated with substantial risk:

  • Women: equal to or greater than 88 cm;
  • Men: equal to or greater than 102 cm.


How to deal with obesity

Maintaining a healthy body weight throughout life requires lifestyle changes. Each case is unique, and those at risk should seek medical help as soon as possible. However, to combat this epidemic, always remember these four essential axes:

  • Have a healthy, complete, varied, and balanced diet, restricting high energy density foods
  • Practice regular physical activity
  • Keep an eye on your body weight
  • Assess emotional well-being on a regular basis, through its impact on changes in behavior (in general) and in eating habits (in particular)

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