Obesity: A Serious Threat to Health

Overweight and obesity are defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health. A body mass index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight, and over 30 is obese.

Once considered a problem primarily in high-income and developed countries, obesity is now a growing health problem in low- and middle- income countries, including the Philippines, warns the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Around 27 million Filipinos are overweight and obese, reveals the latest survey of the Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI).

Risk Factors and Complications

Individuals who are overweight and obese are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Carrying excess weight can lead to musculoskeletal disorders including osteoarthritis.

Obesity in childhood is associated with a wide range of serious health complications and an increased risk of premature onset of related illnesses. Studies have found that without intervention, children and adolescents with obesity will likely continue to be obese into adulthood.

Prevention and Control

Fortunately, many of the causes of overweight and obesity are preventable and reversible. The WHO recommends the following steps to lower the risk of overweight and obesity.

  • Reduce the number of calories consumed from fats and sugars
  • Increase the portion of daily intake of fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts
  • Engage in regular physical activity – 60 minutes per day for children and 150 minutes per week for adults

Studies have shown that exclusive breastfeeding of babies from birth to 6 months of age reduces their risk of becoming overweight or obese.

Benefits of Losing Weight

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends losing 1–2 pounds per week, as people are more likely to avoid weight regain with gradual, steady weight loss.

Weight loss provides the following benefits:

  • Improved overall health: Maintaining a moderate weight can help improve overall health and prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
  • Specific conditions managed or alleviated: Symptoms of sleep apnea or type 2 diabetes, for example, may improve or go away when a person loses excess weight.
  • Better fitness: A weight loss program that involves exercise can improve a person’s fitness and wellbeing, giving them more energy and stamina.
  • Supporting treatments: For example, fertility treatment appears to be more effective in women with obesity and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) if they lose some weight before treatment.
https://www.who.int/health-topics/nutrition/who-fighting-obesity-in-the-philippines#tab=tab_1. Accessed 29 January 2024
https://www.unicef.org/philippines/press-releases/everybody-needs-act-curb-obesity. Accessed 29 January 2024
https://www.who.int/health-topics/obesity#tab=tab_1. Accessed 29 January 2024
https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/215100#why-lose-weight. Accessed 8 February 2024

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