A recent major study has painted a dire picture on the obesity epidemic grappling the entire world. The study, which was led by Imperial College London, found that obesity in men has tripled whilst doubling amongst women.

The lead author of the study, Professor Majid Ezzat is highly concerned about what he describes as an “epidemic of severe obesity”. He recommends governments across the world to act, and act fast.

The breakdown

The key facts are as follows:

  • 266 million obese men in the world.
  • 375 million obese women in the world.
  • UK predicted to have the highest obesity levels in Europe by 2025.
  • Most obese individuals live in USA and China.
  • Underweight epidemic remains a problem in India and Bangladesh.

What is the cause of obesity?

It is no surprise that the crux of the obesity issue is in high-income countries. Busy lifestyles and, as a result, proper meals being replaced by processed food contributes to this as well as the price of fast food compared with healthier food. In certain outlets one can order two burgers with two fries for as little as £3 whilst a salad will cost double.

How can governments act?

Professor Ezzat has urged governments to act to address the issue of obesity but what can be done that is practical?

Fund research

The world is already aware of the causes of obesity but more can be done to shed light on its treatment. Generically, a controlled diet and regular exercise will help fight off the disease, however there needs to be specific research that can churn out an empirical solution. A solution that is applicable to people with different limitations that may prevent them from certain types of foods and exercises, which ordinarily would militate against the effects of obesity.

Furthermore, a better understanding of the genetic causes of obesity can help an individual who is at a greater risk of obesity to make the relevant changes in their lifestyle early on to reduce the chances of the disease.

Research such as this one conducted on COPD would be beneficial if could be translated into obesity research.

Awareness raising campaigns

The outcomes of research can funnelled and packaged into two ways. The first is awareness raising campaigns on behalf of charities. Charities (who on occasions sponsor research) can communicate the various findings from research to the general public through awareness raising initiatives.

Any awareness raising campaign has to be executed in a way that its effects are measurable and thus a charity knows how successful it has been in communicating its message.

The Stroke Association are a model to follow for planning, executing and measuring awareness campaigns. Read more about it here.

Education

The second method to channel the outcomes of research is through education at primary and secondary level. Making pupils and students well informed about the causes and dangers of obesity in the same manner they are taught about alcoholism, unprotected sex and smoking will leave them in a better position to make decisions regarding their consumptions habits and the importance of exercise.

Obesity is largely caused by lifestyle habits therefore in reality it is a condition that can well-managed and eradicated with ease. To learn more about obesity visit the British Obesity Society.