The World Gastroenterology Organisation celebrates World Digestive Health Day every year on the 29th of May, the theme this year is Obesity: an ongoing pandemic. We are looking at the causes and impacts of the disease and most importantly what we can do to be part of the solution.
In 2019, 36% of the UK adult population were overweight and 28% were obese. Broken down, 29% of all adult women were obese and 31% were overweight, whereas all adult men where 27% obese and 41% were overweight.
Putting this into perspective, it’s estimated that obesity in the UK effects 1 in every 4 adults and around 1 in every 5 children aged 10 to 11.
So what harm does obesity do?
Not only does it cause physical changes to the body, it can also lead to a number of day-to-day problems like breathlessness, increased sweating, joint and back pain or feeling tired. Then there are more serious life-limiting conditions like Type 2 Diabetes, Coronary Heart Disease, high blood pressure etc.
Being overweight can also lead to gut health issues – as a result of poor diet, poor sleep, lack of exercise and stress. This can create a viscous circle and downward spiral.
Obesity is causing huge pressures on our health service. On average there are over 900 thousand obesity related hospital admissions each year, in the year prior to Covid it actually topped 1 million. Women accounted for two-thirds (64%) of admissions where obesity is a factor. Obesity related issues cost the NHS £6.1bn annually.
The impact on the health service was highlighted during the last year; being overweight is one of the most significant risk factors for severe Covid. In the UK around 30% of Covid-19 hospitalisations are directly attributed to overweight and obesity. People with overweight or obesity represent 77% of all critically ill Covid-19 patients.
A new report from World Obesity Federation, using data from 164 countries, found a 10-fold greater Covid-19 death rate in countries where more than half the population are overweight or obesity compared to countries with less than half their population affected.
What are the causes of obesity?
Obesity is generally caused by consuming more calories than you burn off, particularly from those found in fatty or sugary foods. The excess energy is stored by the body as fat. The Western lifestyle for many involves eating excessive amounts of cheap fatty fast foods that are high in calories and not eating enough wholefoods and fruit and veg. In 2015 only 26% of adults ate the recommended 5-a-day.
If this isn’t damaging enough we are also not getting enough exercise or doing enough physical exercise – spending too much time sitting down behind a desk or in a car.
There is a strong link between deprivation and obesity in children. In 2019/20, the likelihood of obesity in youn children aged 4-5 was almost twice as high in the most deprived areas (13%) compared to the least deprived areas (6.7%). The government’s Childhood obesity: a plan for action: Chapter 2 has set a ‘target’ to significantly reduce the gap in obesity between children from the most and least deprived areas by 2030.
What can we do to address obesity?
There is no quick fix for obesity but we want to be part of the solution!
These 3 ways are just a starting point. Cutting down on fatty, sugary and salty foods and introducing a lot more wholefoods, vegetables and a little fruit into your diet is one of the most impactful ways to make a change. Take a moment to look in your food cupboard, fridge and freezer and identify the over processed food that causes health issues – what could you swap them with to benefit your health?
Portion size can be another quick win. Use smaller plates and smaller glasses; you’ll feel better with a lot of food on a smaller plate that a small amount of food on a large plate. Try to fill half the plate with wholefoods and vegetables (beans, lentils, salad, roast veg), one quarter with your choice of protein and the other quarter (or less) with carbs like potatoes, pasta and rice. Fot the latter try to eat brown versions as they have so much more fibre.
Also think about your water consumption. Often people eat when they are THIRSTY not when they are really hungry. If you feel those hunger pangs see if you can quell them with a cup of herbal tea, a glass of water or a decaf coffee (without a biscuit) – it does work?
The other major change is to make physical movement and exercise part of your daily routine. Even if it’s only for a 30 minute walk a day to start with, it can make a difference. You don’t need a gym membership either, you can find great space to run or take a walk outside or you can even find some great fitness classes to do at home online. You can even get your family and friends involved in the process.
We at Troo are committed to making changes in our own personal lives and know how hard this is to do but with dedication, commitment and some motivation it can be done!
There are also a number of resources and advice set out by the NHS and other organisations that you can find online e.g Couch to 5k, which has been designed for complete beginners to get people moving.
All info was taken from www.nhs.ukand healthexpress.co.uk