Obesity is a major global problem – and the situation doesn’t look to be improving any time soon. Statistics show that worldwide 107.7 million children and a staggering 603.7 million adults are classed as obese, with rates of obesity doubling since 1980 alone.
As such a current hot topic, being informed about the health risks of obesity can help to tackle this global epidemic, but there’s a lot more to this issue than meets the eye. Here are some surprising facts about obesity.
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The seeds are sown before you’re born
Clearly, what you eat and how active you are hugely influence whether you will become obese, but it’s actually not as simple as that. Researchers have found that your risk for becoming obese is sealed before you’re even born, with children of obese parents more likely to end up overweight themselves. Indeed, pregnant mums who are obese during the first trimester are twice as likely to have babies who also become obese. Further studies conclude that if nothing is done to tackle obesity by the age of five, it can be much harder to overcome.
Genes play a role
While a person is in control of whether they become obese or not, in some cases it might not be their fault. Studies have shown that a very small number of people may possess rogue genes that encourage extra amounts of glucose to enter cells, causing the body to store more weight.
Increased risk of birth defects
Scientists have discovered that obese mums are more likely to have babies that have birth defects. In fact, if you have a body mass index (BMI) of 35 or more, you’re 23% more likely to have a baby with birth defects compared to mums with a BMI in the normal range.
Obesity could destroy the NHS
Currently, the NHS spends around £5bn annually on diseases associated with obesity, but this figure is set to rise to £15bn over the next few years. One-tenth of the NHS budget is devoted to tackling type 2 diabetes, an illness associated with being overweight. With almost a third of the UK population teetering on the edge of getting type 2 diabetes, obesity could cause the NHS to go under if the situation doesn’t improve soon.
Who you hang out with could influence your obesity risk
Studies have shown that people who live in poorer areas are more likely to succumb to obesity, but no sector of the population is immune. Statistics reveal that almost two-out-of-three people in the UK carry more weight than they should, and you’re more likely to do so if your friends or neighbours are also overweight. It’s not clear why this is the case, but it could be due to the fact that seeing overweight people close to you could normalise the situation.
Don’t rely on liposuction
Liposuction might seem like a quick fix to getting rid of excess flab, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Although liposuction banishes superficial fat, it doesn’t remove the excess fat that surrounds the body’s organs. It is this fat, known as visceral fat, which can cause health problems.
Obesity can reduce your lifespan
Being obese can take up to ten years off your life, with at least 2.8 million people dying from obesity-related illnesses annually. It’s not just ill health from being overweight that can reduce your lifespan, but researchers have concluded that if you’re in a car crash and you’re obese, you’re 80% more likely to not survive it.
Being obese can make for grim reading, but the good news is that anyone can make a difference to their weight, with the right help and support.