Obesity is rapidly becoming one of the greatest health challenges of the 21st century. No disease is more common and causes more unnecessary illness or early death than obesity. Furthermore there is no other single problem that so reduces the quality of life or increases the demand for healthcare services
The problem is worldwide. In the United States, more than two of every three adults are overweight and about one in three is obese This means that approximately 60 million people have the disease of obesity in the United States alone. More than one in five Australian adults, an estimated 2.6 million of a population of 20 million, are obese. For both countries, the incidence of obesity has doubled since 1980. Alarmingly, obesity starts in childhood and already 7% of our teenagers are obese.
Around the world, all countries have a growing problem. There are now an estimated 300 million people around the world who are suffering from obesity and its consequences. In both developed and developing nations, a similar pattern is occurring. In Russia, 54% of adults are overweight. In Brazil, the figure is 36%, and in Malaysia, 27%. Even China has a developing problem. A recent survey of adults in urban Shanghai reported that 29.5% were overweight and 4.3% were obese.
After millions of years of evolution we carry a genetic structure designed to enable us to survive the life of the hunter-gatherer, but our health and our lives are now threatened by a lifestyle characterized by ready access to copious amounts of attractive food and very little need for physical activity. Foods high in fat, carbohydrates and, in particular, simple sugars, are booming. The US Department of Agriculture reports that the US per capita intake of sugar was 152.4 lb (69 kg) in 2000. This is equal to nearly half a pound (230 g) of sugar per person each day. Most people will claim that they are not eating that much sugar. However, sugar is now a part of so many foods that we don’t even realize that we are eating it. Sugar has infiltrated out diet to a frightening extent. One hundred years ago, the sugar intake per capita was only 0.5lb (230 g). Is it any wonder that we have a problem with obesity?
And we don’t even need to get out of the chair to order the food to be delivered or to change the channels on the television. Activity has become optional. The combination of increased intake of energy and reduced energy expenditure inevitably leads to progressive weight increase.
Debra Donahue is a 20 year nurse and freelance medical writer who hails from Dallas, Texas. She has written for some of the top hospitals in the world. Learn more about a true surgery center by visiting Dallas Lap-Band Surgery or learning about weight loss surgery options in Dallas.
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