Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for some of the deadliest diseases of our modern society. An individual is defined as overweight if his or her Body Mass Index (BMI) is greater than or equal to 25, and obese if the BMI is greater than or equal to 30.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), excess body weight is the main cause of cardiovascular diseases, stroke and diabetes which are the leading cause of death in Western countries. Obesity can, however, increase the risk of degenerative musculoskeletal disorders such as osteoarthritis and several cancers, including breast, colon, prostate and liver.
Millions of people worldwide are affected by obesity, a condition that kept raising significantly since 1975. Today, well over one-third of American adults (36.5%) are obese, with an estimated annual medical cost of $147 billion. What’s even scarier, however, is that up to 70% of U.S. citizens aged 15 or older are at least overweight. The problem seems to be much more severe in the United States, although it is slowly spreading to other countries as well.
The basic mechanism that causes a patient to accumulate excess weight is an energy imbalance between calories expended and calories consumed. In other words, eating too much food can lead to fat accumulation if this excess intake is not balanced by sufficient physical activity. Our body naturally tries, in fact, to store as many resources as possible in the form of fat to provide us with a reliable source of energy whenever food is not available anymore. However, in modern societies food is all but scarce. The causes of obesity are thus related to bad lifestyle habits, such as living sedentary lives, eating junk food, and making poor dietary choices.
A recent infographic shows how obesity keeps being on the rise even in 2017, and it is estimated to keep growing in the next two decades. The info provided highlights some interesting findings. In particular, people living in low-income households (less than $15,000 per year) seems to be more frequently obese (33% vs 24.6%) than their richer peers ($50,000 per year). Higher education seems to be even more relevant, as only 21.5% of those who graduated from college or technical college are affected by obesity.
The State with the highest adult obesity rate is Louisiana with a whopping 36.2%, while Colorado has the lowest at 20%. The infographic also pointed out a possible link between High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) or other corn sweeteners consumption and overweight. The pounds per capita consumed rose steadily from 13.4% in 1960, to 38% in 2014.
Article by Dr. Claudio Butticè, Pharm.D.