Obesity projections for 2020 are grim.

The Colosseum amphitheater located in the centre of Rome, Italy. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
The Colosseum amphitheater located in the centre of Rome, Italy. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

Obesity is generally caused by eating too much and moving too little. Fat and sugar are high in calories. They are your big enemies. Add to that lack of exercise and physical activity. All that leads to surplus energy that will be stored by the body as fat.

Here are the facts.

In 2020, 83 per cent of men and 72 per cent of women will be overweight or obese.

Currently, 72 per cent of men and 63 per cent of women are overweight or obese (people who are overweight have a BMI of 25 to 29, people who are obese have a BMI of 30 or greater).

More than 50 per cent of these individuals will suffer from diabetes. or pre-diabetic conditions. These projections were presented by Northwestern Medicine researchers at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions recently in Orlando.

The AHA has set a target to help North Americans improve their overall heart health by 20 per cent in 2020. To achieve this target, we have to make a drastic change in out eating habits and increase our physical activities.

More people would need to improve health behaviors related to diet, physical activity, body weight and smoking, and health factors, related to glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure.

Believe it or not, less than five per cent of Americans currently are considered to have ideal cardiovascular health. Can you believe that – only five per cent!

The modest six percent improvement in cardiovascular health that is projected for 2020 means better cholesterol and blood pressure numbers for Americans and fewer smokers.

Achieving a healthy weight through diet and physical activity is the best way most Americans can improve their cardiovascular health. Add to that not smoking is the number one preventable cause of preventable death.

Obesity is a chronic and often progressive disease, similar to diabetes or high blood pressure. Many organizations including Obesity Canada, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization now consider obesity to be a chronic disease.

It is estimated that one in 10 premature deaths among Canadian adults age 20 to 64 is directly attributable to obesity.

It is no secret that most methods of treating obesity have failed. Some are good for a short duration but most people revert to their old habits. Habits are hard to get rid off. Habits that have been ingrained in your system since childhood.

Experts agree there is no single solution to the problem of obesity. We should help people make better choices. People are addicted to sweet and high-fat foods that are inexpensive and easily available.

Can you think of a law that will make us exercise more, eat less and eat healthy?

Finally, a question to think about. Is BMI the best way to measure ideal weight?

A study published in the Frontiers in Public Health (July 24, 2017) by Philip B. Maffetone and colleagues say using BMI to measure obesity likely underestimates the problem. They propose measuring a person’s waist instead of their weight to assess health risks. Abdominal fat or obesity has more severe health effects than fat in other parts of the body.

Ideally, all should aim to keep their waist measurement less than half that of their height.

If you want to lose weight then 75 per cent of your effort should be spent on eating less and eating right. Twenty-five per cent of your effort should be spent on physical exercise. Have a wonderful healthy and happy 2020.

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