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Let's talk About Obesity

Obesity is a growing concern worldwide, with around 650 million adults classified as obese. In Australia, data has shown that 67% of adults are overweight or obese. World Obesity Day, observed on the 4th of March, aims to raise awareness about the seriousness of this issue and encourage action towards healthier living. Maintaining a healthy weight is vital for good health, and obesity can lead to a range of health problems.

The terms "overweight" and "obese" both refer to having excess body weight, but they have different meanings. Overweight refers to an excess amount of body weight that may come from muscles, bone, fat, and water. In contrast, obesity is a medical term and refers specifically to having an excess amount of body fat, which can increase the risk of various health problems. 

Body Mass Index (BMI) is commonly used to classify people as overweight or obese. A BMI of 25 to 29.9 is considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 or higher is classified as obese. However, BMI is just one indicator of excess weight, and a person's body fat percentage and waist circumference can also be used to determine overweight and obesity.

In summary, overweight and obese both indicate excess body weight, but obesity specifically refers to excess body fat, which can increase the risk of various health problems.

Recent progress in obesity research has shed light on why weight management is a greater challenge for some individuals than others. Genetic factors, for example, play a significant role in a person's susceptibility to weight gain. Some individuals may have a genetic predisposition to accumulate fat around internal organs and within muscles, which can cause dysregulation of important biological processes, including metabolism, appetite control, and hormone functions. As a result, the body can promote weight gain and hinder weight loss, making it challenging for some individuals to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Unfortunately, many people still view obesity as a matter of personal choice, without taking into account these underlying complexities. This can lead to harmful stigmatisation, bias, and discrimination towards individuals struggling with obesity.  It is important to remember that; just like other health conditions, obesity is not a reflection of someone’s character.

Health Risks associated with Obesity

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), overweight and obesity were responsible for 8.4% of Australia's total disease burden in 2018. In Australia, two in three adults and one in four children are affected by overweight and obesity. In the ten years leading up to 2018, the number of adults living with obesity in Australia more than doubled.

While health risks tend to increase with greater weight gain and duration of obesity, it is important to note that the impact of obesity can vary significantly among individuals. Not everyone with a higher weight or BMI will develop severe health issues, but the risks do increase over time and can accumulate.

Weight management is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Obesity can increase the risk of various diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and some cancers. It can also lead to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and sleep apnoea.

According to the AIHW, the population groups at greater risk of obesity in Australia include:

  • People living in regional and remote areas and socioeconomically disadvantaged areas
  • Indigenous Australians
  • People with a disability
  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds

These population groups face a range of environmental, social, economic, and cultural factors that can contribute to the development of obesity. These factors can include limited access to healthy food options, lower levels of physical activity, and reduced access to healthcare services. Therefore, it is important to address these inequalities and develop targeted interventions to support these populations in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Potential Mental Health Impacts of Obesity

In addition to physical health, obesity can also affect mental health. Studies have shown that obese individuals are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. This can lead to social isolation and a poor quality of life. Furthermore, obesity can make it challenging to perform everyday activities, leading to decreased mobility and reduced independence.

Although the body positivity movement expanded the concept of beauty and helped women feel more comfortable in their own bodies, it still implies that a person's value is a least somewhat based on their appearance and this is simply not true. A person's value should never be linked to how they look. The ultimate focus should always be on cultivating a healthy lifestyle and a happier life.

Healthy Lifestyle supporting  Weight Management

The key to weight management is a healthy lifestyle, which includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. Eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can provide the necessary nutrients for good health. Limiting the intake of sugary and fatty foods can help reduce the risk of obesity and associated health problems.

Regular exercise is also essential for weight management. Physical activity not only burns calories, but also improves cardiovascular health, builds muscle, and reduces stress. The World Health Organization recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

Ultimately weight is all about calories in versus calories out. Keeping track of this equation is helpful to everyone struggling to manage their weight.

Understand how your body is making use of the calories you consume

The Significance of World Obesity Day

Misunderstandings about obesity and its relationship to health pose a significant challenge to addressing the global obesity epidemic. This World Obesity Day, let's harness the power of conversation and storytelling to correct misconceptions, acknowledge the complexities of the issue, and work collaboratively towards effective solutions. By engaging in difficult conversations and mobilising policy initiatives, we can upend harmful beliefs and turn talk into tangible change.

Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk of various health problems, both physical and mental. It is essential to make healthy lifestyle choices and seek support from healthcare professionals if needed. World Obesity Day serves as a reminder to make the necessary lifestyle changes towards healthier living, for ourselves and for future generations.

Are you ready to take the first step?

If you are willing to take control of your health and your weight from an integrative perspective, join the first weight management program in Australia to move beyond scales and look into all the health indicators that make you feel great now and into the future. Learn more at ameliaphillips.com.au/challenge

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