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World Obesity Day: Investment in Obesity

World Obesity Day: Investment in Obesity

Written by Shirley Johanna, M.Sc, M.Phil
Article Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on October 11, 2017 at 5:45 PM
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  • World Obesity Day aims to raise awareness to combat obesity and reduce obesity-related health risks
  • Obesity increases the risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and arthritis
  • The prevalence of overweight and obesity can be reduced with effective treatment service, healthy diet, and regular exercise

The World Obesity Day is observed on 11th October every year to increase knowledge and understanding on the challenge of obesity. The day urges the government, healthcare providers, insurers and philanthropic organizations to prioritize investment in combating obesity. The theme for this year's World Obesity Day is "Investment in Obesity," which means investment in treatment services, intervention, and prevention of obesity.

Launched in 2015 by the World Obesity Federation, World Obesity Day aims to help people achieve and maintain a healthy weight and to reverse the obesity crisis. The day aims to increase awareness, encourage advocacy, improve policies to combat overweight and obesity.

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World Obesity Day: Investment in Obesity

Obesity is a global health threat as it is responsible for a significant proportion of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and cancer. On current trends, if urgent action is not taken to treat or prevent obesity, the annual global medical bill for treating the consequences of obesity is expected to reach US$1.2 trillion per year by 2025.

Investment in Obesity

Investing in obesity means investing in treatment services to support people with obesity, provide early intervention and prevention. Investing in the treatment, management, and prevention of obesity is a cost-effective action for the governments and healthcare services.

Investment in obesity can help achieve the 2025 targets set by the World Health Organization (WHO) to combat obesity and to achieve a 25% relative reduction in mortality from NCDs.

Invest in Treatment Services

Treatment services for obesity must be strengthened. Every individual should have access to the best treatment services available. Universal access, health coverage and insurance cover for obesity treatments can help every individual who is obese to seek treatment. Multi-disciplinary teams should be formed to support the treatment of obesity. Every individual should have access to pharmaceuticals and medical devices.

Invest in Early Intervention

Obese and overweight individuals who need support with weight management should have access to early interventions. National guidelines for care and management for obese and overweight people, particularly those from vulnerable populations. Healthcare professionals should be trained in patient engagement and avoidance of weight stigmatization. Free primary healthcare consultations and weight management services for individual, group, family, school and workplace. Universal access to monitoring and continuing care services can help support people with obesity.

Invest in Prevention

Investment in prevention helps reduce the need for treatment. Preventing weight gain and preventing weight re-gain are essential for ensuring that obesity treatment is effective. Investment in the prevention of obesity involves creating a healthy environment through education. Improve local food environment to increase easy access to affordable healthy food. Market interventions to support and improve healthy dietary choices and health promotion to protect the health of current and future generations.


Overweight and obesity mean that a person's weight is greater than what's considered healthy for the height. Overweight is when the Body Mass Index (BMI) is >25 and a person is obese when the BMI is >30. Obesity is a threat for not only adults for children and adolescents as well. Childhood obesity is on the rise, increasing more than tenfold over the past four decades. Globally, BMI of children and adolescents has increased by 1.7 for boys and 1.3 for girls.

Causes of Obesity

Consuming Excess Calories - The consumption of fast foods which are high in fat, sugar, salt, and carbohydrates have increased by three times. This leads to fat accumulation in the body.

Sedentary Lifestyle - With the modern convenience devices, people are leading a much more sedentary life. According to WHO, sedentary lifestyle could be among the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.

Lack of Sleep - Studies have shown that people who do not sleep enough are twice likely to become obese. The risk applies for both adults and children.

Genetics - Rare genetic conditions such as Prader-Willi syndrome can cause obesity. Genetic traits inherited from parents such as having a large appetite may also contribute to obesity.

Hormonal Imbalance - Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or Cushing's syndrome caused by hormone imbalance may increase weight gain.

Medicines - Certain medicines like corticosteroids, antidepressants, medications for epilepsy and diabetes and medicines used to treat mental illness can contribute to weight gain.

Consequences of Obesity

Obesity and overweight can have a serious impact on health. Some of the common consequences of obesity are cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, new cancer cases, non-alcoholic liver disease, osteoarthritis, and depression. Being overweight can put extra pressure on joints and limbs, making it difficult to walk or climb.

Facts and Statistics on Obesity

  • Globally, 2.7 billion adults are likely to suffer from overweight and obesity by 2025
  • The prevalence of obesity has tripled since 1975 across the globe
  • One in three adult population is overweight, and one in 10 is obese
  • More than 1.9 billion adults were overweight, and over 650 billion were obese
  • About 13% of the world's adult population was obese in 2016
  • More than 41 million children under age five are overweight
  • Reducing the body weight by just 5 to 10% can reduce health risks dramatically
  • Every year, about 2.8 million people die as a result of being overweight or obese
  • Obesity can reduce the life expectancy by nine years
  • Overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight
  • Globally, obesity is the fifth leading cause of deaths
  • Obesity is more common among women than men

Tips to Manage and Prevent Obesity

Overweight and obesity are preventable. It is important to achieve an energy balance between calories consumed and calories used. Overweight and obese people who want to avoid health complications related to obesity should take important steps to lose excess fat accumulated in the body. Healthy changes to your lifestyle including, diet and physical activity play a vital role in weight loss and also help prevent regaining the lost weight.

Long-term changes to healthy diet and regular physical activity result in a slow and steady rate of weight loss. Short-term weight loss programs may help you lose weight but may eventually lead to excess weight gain. Before taking weight loss program or making dietary changes, it is important to talk to a doctor and a dietitian to ensure that these are safe for you.
  • Increase the consumption of fiber-rich whole grains and legumes
  • Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables (steam the vegetables instead of frying them)
  • Limit energy intake from total fats and replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats
  • Reduce the consumption of salt, sugar, and molasses
  • Avoid consumption of aerated drinks and alcohol
  • Eat small meals every 2 to 3 hours than consuming large meals
  • Take short breaks at workplace to avoid sitting in the same position for longer duration
  • Exercise regularly to avoid weight gain
  • Make sure that you sleep for at least 7 hours to avoid weight gain
  • Practice yoga and breathing exercises to keep stress away
References :
  1. Today is World Obesity Day! - (http://www.obesityday.worldobesity.org/)
  2. World Obesity Day 2017 - (http://www.obesityday.worldobesity.org/world-obesity-day-2017)
  3. What are the health consequences of being overweight? - (http://www.who.int/features/qa/49/en/)
  4. Obesity and overweight - (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/en/)
  5. Obesity Facts & Figures - (http://easo.org/education-portal/obesity-facts-figures/)
Source: Medindia

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