Obesity – Data, Causes, Risks & Recommendations

October 2017, The World’s Health Organisation (WHO) obesity report update: “Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975”.

In 2016, nearly 2 billion adults (18 years +) were overweight and more than 650 million obese. This means that 40% of adults worldwide had weight issues, and 13% were obese, and the figures keep going up. The future of our kids don’t seem any better either, more than 340 million children and adolescents (age 5-19) were overweight or obese too, 18% of the children and adolescent global population, whereas in 1975 only 4% suffered this condition (1).   

The Global Health Observatory (GHO) Data with the WHO shows that in 2016 the UK was leading the obesity ranking in Europe with 28% of adults suffering the condition. This figure has more than tripled, comparing to the 9% of 1975. On the children and adolescent side the news weren’t any better either, as obesity is on the rise year after year, and it has had an increase from less than 3% in 1975, to 10% in 2016. The overweight department showed that nearly 2 out of 3 adults were overweight in 2016 in the UK, and approximately 1 out of every 3 children and adolescent. Worldwide, out of the 195 countries, the USA makes top of the list with nearly 75 million obese people, and the UK ranks at number 11 with 12,5 million obese people (2).

According to the WHO the cause of these vast increase obesity figures are due to two main reasons (1);

  • An increase of intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat.
  • A decrease of physical activity (sedentary nature of many forms of work, changing modes of transportation and increase urbanisation).

The WHO also warns of the possible dramatic health consequences of being obese or even overweight (1);

  • Cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2012.
  • Diabetes.
  • Musculoskeletal disorders (especially osteoarthritis – a highly disabling degenerative disease of the joints).
  • Some cancers (including endometrial, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidney, and colon).

On an individual level, the WHO recommends to make healthier food choices and exercise regularly, for which they offer us the following recommendations (1);

  1. Limit energy intake from total fats and sugars.
  2. Increase consumption of fruit and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains and nuts.
  3. Engage in regular physical activity (60 minutes a day for children and 150 minutes spread through the week for adults).

So, basically the WHO is recommending us to adopt a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet, in order to decrease our weight in a healthy way (point 2), which is basically the same thing we could do to avoid becoming overweight and obese in the first place.

Why is such a simple recommendation so difficult to follow? In the following post we’ll find where the real difficulties lay…




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