Obesity: A Global Epidemic
The global epidemic of obesity is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently over 1 billion overweight or obese individuals worldwide. These numbers have been increasing at a rapid rate since 1980 when WHO first started tracking these statistics. While the number of overweight and obese adults has increased, so too has the incidence of diabetes, heart disease, stroke and certain types of cancer among other diseases.
In addition to the health risks associated with being overweight and obese, the economic costs of treating these conditions are significant. Obesity-related illnesses cost society $1 trillion annually in lost productivity and medical care expenditures. The direct financial impact on employers is estimated to be between $65 billion and $140 billion per year due to absenteeism from work due to illness related to obesity.
As obesity rates continue to rise, so does the need for new solutions. There are many ways to combat the problem of obesity including exercise programs, diet and weight loss surgery. However, none of these approaches will eliminate the problem entirely. In fact, they may make it worse. To date no single solution has proven effective in preventing or reversing obesity.
What Is Obesity?
Obesity can be measured in a variety of ways but the most common are the body mass index (BMI) and the skin fold measures. The BMI is determined using weight and height measurements. It is believed to be a good indicator of body fatness but it is not without its limitations for certain groups of people such as athletes and certain gender and age groups. Inaccuracies may also occur for people with large muscle mass. For these reasons, BMI is not always used.
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