Obesity – a killer epidemic

What is Obesity? Obesity is defined as excess accumulation of fat in the body. It is a very serious health issue for individuals, communities and countries. The world has never seen a greater health epidemic than the current world obesity epidemic.

In 2014 the World Health Organisation reported 1.9 billion people were overweight and the trend of global obesity has doubled since 1980.

New Zealand unfortunately is the third fattest nation behind the USA and Mexico in the OECD nations. One in three adults above the age of 15 years is obese (31 per cent) and one in nine children aged 2-14 years are also obese (11 per cent).

Obesity causes severe and chronic diseases, certain cancers and premature death as well as diabetes mellitus, obstructive sleep apnoea, cardiovascular diseases including hypertension, heart diseases and stroke as well as musculoskeletal disorders especially osteoarthritis which is a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints.

Obstructive sleep apnoea is a condition which involves the stoppage of regular breathing during sleep. This is because of redundant fatty tissue at the back of the throat which results in lack of oxygen to the brain. This then jolts the body to kick-start breathing again. Sleep apnoea results in broken sleep, tiredness and random falling asleep during the day.

Certain cancers are caused by obesity, such as endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder and colon.

Obesity leads to discrimination in society and within various aspects of life. It is associated with poor self-image, lack of confidence and can often lead to depression and suicide.

The policy makers, community leaders and all individuals should be alarmed by this killer epidemic and do something about it today.

Mr Habib Rahman is a General and Bariatric Surgeon. He consults at Ormiston Surgeons, Ormiston Hospital, Botany Junction and can be contacted on 09 277 8249.

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