Monday Aug 15, 2022
Monday Aug 15, 2022

Obesity: A Rising Problem

Poor eating habits among adults and children in urban settings are resulting in the problem of obesity.

2022 Jun 26, 6:48, Kathmandu
The number of obese people globally is increasing at an alarming rate. Obesity is not just a problem occurring in prosperous nations but it has become a global health issue and Nepal is not exempt from it.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) more than one billion people are obese today in the world. Among them are not just adults but a significant number of adolescents and children as well. Analyzing the global trend, the obesity rates estimates are even more concerning. It is expected that 167 million more adults and children will become obese by the year 2025.
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. Obesity became the reason for four million deaths in a single year in 2017. This indicates the deadliness of this condition. The risk of preventable deaths from obesity increases is substantial.
Obesity negatively impacts all the vital organs and systems of the human body including: the heart, liver, kidneys, joints, and the reproductive system. It increases non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, stroke, various forms of cancer, and not to neglect mental health problems. Moreover, it was observed that people who are obese were more likely to get hospitalized in the COVID - 19 pandemic.

Obesity is becoming a prevailing issue especially in urban settings. Families have shifted from agriculture and cultivation of nutritious foods to quick ready-to-eat meals, resulting in poor eating habits especially in young people.

A study ‘Junk Food Consumption among Secondary Level Students’ conducted in the year 2017 in Nepal, reveals an alarming situation. All students consumed junk food on a regular basis. Among them, 90.1% of students preferred junk food for its taste. Only 54.2% of students were aware of the harmful effects of eating junk food on a regular basis.

“The human brain releases a chemical called dopamine, when sugary and junk food items are consumed. The release of dopamine provides pleasure to a person, which makes the experience associated with its release addictive,” says adolescent health expert Dr. Rajendra Bhadra.

Recently in 2022, researchers at the University of Sao Paulo Brazil, published a journal, where they linked the consumption of processed and junk food to high risk of obesity among adolescents. Furthermore, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol was also found among adolescents who consumed junk and processed food on a regular basis. According to WHO, from 1975 to 2016, the prevalence of overweight or obese children and adolescents aged 5–19 years increased more than four-fold from 4% to 18% globally.

“Our lifestyle has drastically changed in a few decades, whereas our evolutionary biology takes thousands of years to evolve. In the past, as food was not readily available at all times, humans ate oily and sugary food when they had the opportunity to, with the motive of storing energy in their body for future, for the times of food scarcity. Now the same foods high in sugar and fats are linked with diseases related to the heart,” concludes Dr. Bhadra.


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