It’s a fact that the western world’s population is becoming more obese, with the situation getting worse. The World Health Organisation (WHO) believes that it is not becoming an epidemic, but by 2020 it is estimated that obesity will be the single biggest killer.
Currently it is estimated that at least 300 million adults worldwide are obese, with a body mass index of over 30. Over one 1 billion are overweight with a body mass index of more than 27.3 percent for women and 27.8 percent for men. Obesity affects all ages and socioeconomic groups.
But the biggest reason for obesity is mental health. Recent studies have shown the link between obesity and mental health issues such as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Other disorders that stem from mental health issues include binge eating disorder and night eating syndrome. It is important that doctors look at this and begin to address their patients’ emotional health.
When we sort mental health out, we can begin to cut down on obesity. It is important that physicians begin to make themselves aware of the underlying cause of obesity in their patients and ask the right questions. Obesity is a symptom, for which there is always a bigger picture, but no one ever makes the correlation.
Compared to adults who are of normal weight, adults with a BMI greater than 30 are more at risk of hypertension, high cholesterol, stroke, heart disease, osteoarthritis, certain types of cancer and sleep problems. Unfortunately, obesity has become a public health issue on an already overburdened system, but it’s one that if not tackled at the root, may never decrease.
Also, unless those of us who struggle with the condition make the correlation, it’s not something that can easily be fixed. Sometimes it’s not always that straightforward, particularly if there is an underlying physical cause, like a thyroid problem. It may be difficult to start losing weight without outside intervention, but the root cause around emotional health will always need to be addressed first.
Although obesity runs in families and it is linked to mental health, our sedentary lifestyles, over-eating and a lack of exercise are all major contributors.
Source: World Health Organisation, Obesity & Overweight Factsheet