Obesity has been described as a disease, but by eating unhealthily – which can lead to obesity, is not a disease. It meets the definition of a disease in that it adversely affects a person, however, more often than not, it is preventable – unlike disease. Either way, the progress of reversing obesity is slow.
The word “disease” connotes that a person can do very little about it. The reality is that people can do things to prevent or reverse this “disease.” The disorder involved is the third-largest killer of people in the U.S., while the first killer is high blood pressure and smoking. Interestingly enough, a side effect of obesity is high blood pressure.
There are a variety of health problems that are associated with being overweight and obese such as coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.
Global movement towards decreasing obesity has been terribly slow. Only 25 percent of countries are doing anything politically towards healthy eating. The ‘disease’ has increased dramatically among the current generation versus the children of the 70’s.
According to the World Health Organization, 39 percent of adults were overweight in 2014, and a third of these were classified as obese. With global childhood obesity at an all-time high, fat children are said to be an ‘investment’ for future sales of food, according to Tim Lobstein of the World Obesity Federation.
The question remains of where to start to slow down the obesity progress. The reality is that even though there have been movements toward reversing obesity, no country has had progress in doing so.
Although people are less active than they were in the 1970s, the problem rests on the changes to the American diet since the 1980s, according to Dariush Mozaffarian, the associate professor of epidemiology at Harvard-affiliated Children’s Hospital Boston. People in the 1980s were more conscious of being overweight and obese due to anti-fat messages. People avoided fat in food, but what took its place were sugary drinks and sugary carbohydrates – which did the opposite of losing weight.
Obesity has been named a disease and genetics have been linked to it. The genetic aspect of obesity is that it was a defense against famine; the holding on to calories to avoid starvation. However, other experts have explained obesity was a third of what it is today not long ago, and genes do not change over so few generations.
The ‘disease’ can be blamed on what kind of food is consumed. Mozaffarain said that people know what food to avoid, but do not know which food they should eat. Walter Willett, a Harvard nutrition expert, said that restraints are needed in order for the problem to go away.
Other sources say that obesity is a disease and the cure is surgery, such as a lap-band, of which the effectiveness is questioned. After an average of $14,532 spent, half of the patients that receive lap-bands end up having the bands removed due to their ineffectiveness.
Mozzaffarain and Willet would agree that there is no magic pill or surgery to effectively lose weight. Obesity may be described as a disease, but in reality, obesity only has side effects that can be diseases. For now, the obesity reversal progress is slow.
By Jacob Dowd
Harvard Gazette – 1
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Photo by Samson Loo – License