Fact File: Overweight and Obesity Risk

by Jadwiga O'Brien on May 3, 2011

Obesity: In Simple Terms

fotolia_700433_Subscription_L Overweight and obesity are conditions that occur when excess body fat causes a person to become at risk for health problems. Overweight and obesity are key predictors of many other illnesses and chronic diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

Overweight and obesity are caused primarily by poor diet and lack of physical activity. It comes down to energy being taken in through food, but not being burned off through physical activity.

How does it affect us?

In 2008, 1.5 billion people worldwide were overweight. Of these, half a billion were obese. By 2015 it’s expected that these figures will rise to 2.3 billion and 700 million respectively.

Given that the world’s population is approximately 7 billion, one can estimate that, by 2015, almost one-third of the global population will be overweight.

In 2005, just under 40% of Irish people were overweight and 18% were obese

In 2009, over 60% of English people were overweight and 23% were obese.

Two of the key lifestyle changes to reduce overweight and obesity risk are; eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and being physically active.

Eat Well

Research has shown that changing your diet can be one of the most significant changes you can make to lose excess weight and prevent obesity. This does not necessarily involve going on a strict or stringent diet. The most effective changes can be simple. These include;

  • Increasing your intake of fruit and veg to at least 5 a day.
  • Increase your intake of nuts
  • Increase your intake of fibre and whole grains.
  • Reduce your intake of sugar. Especially fizzy drinks.
  • Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats (check labels).

For more on the health benefits of fruit and veg, click here.

Be Active

The WHO attributes the increase in cases of overweight and obesity to an increase of sedentary lifestyle behaviours. What they mean by this is that people are becoming less active in society overall.

In order to become more active, the WHO recommends that adults should be getting 30mins of physical activity every day. For children it’s 60mins.

For fun, free physical activity ideas for kids click here.

Who do you feel is to blame for the increase in obesity in our society – is it fast food restaurants, advertisers, parents? Why not share your thoughts and ideas in the comments box below.

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