Are you picturing a global health crisis? One that doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, or whether you’re a millionaire or just scraping by? One that paints a terrifying portrait of potential heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and a variety of cancers. Yes, you've probably hit the nail on its head—we're about to sit down for a hearty chat about obesity.
So, what's obesity anyway? At its most bare bones, obesity is the unhindered gathering of excess body fat, typically measured in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI). If you're toting a BMI of 30 or above, you’re usually considered a card-carrying member of the obesity club. Sounds simple, doesn't it? But hiding beneath this deceptively basic definition, there's a layered cake of biological, behavioural, and environmental factors. This convoluted cocktail not only births obesity but also acts as its entrepreneurial promoter.
In the technology-fuelled acceleration of the recent few decades, obesity rates didn't just raise their eyebrows, they've soared higher than an astronaut on a sugar high. They've established themselves as a menacing public health concern that we can't swipe left on any longer. The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that worldwide obesity has been galloping along at almost triple the pace since 1975. Picture this, in 2016, a whopping 1.9 billion adults, yes billion, over 18, were carrying around excess weight. Of these, over 650 million were shuffling into the obese corner. That's a shocking approximate of 13% of the global adult population!
Despite its veneer of simplicity—eat less, burn more, shake off the weight—obesity is a gnarly challenger in the boxing ring of health. Using the sneaky tactics of genetics, hormones and modern lifestyles, it's sent many a persevering individual spiralling down into a whirlpool of frustration.
Let’s put a face to this global struggle. Meet Robert. A 47-year-old who decided to take charge of his health three years ago. His monumental journey commenced with a formidable 270 pounds that he determinedly whittled down by an awe-inspiring 85 pounds. This was accomplished by a relentless pursuit of a strict 1500 calorie per day diet and committing to moving his body six days a week. However, during his latest annual physical checkup, Robert was blindsided by an unwelcome revelation. He'd put the weight back on, a discouraging 60 pounds of it.
Battered and bewildered, Robert confessed, "I'm at a loss...Despite all my efforts, the weight stubbornly piles back on. My metabolism must have taken a permanent vacation. Now, all I think about is food. I'm haunted by it, it's a constant, unwelcome guest in my thoughts— this was never an issue before I lost the weight. My willpower to stop at one serving seems to have deserted me."
Robert's heartbreaking saga encapsulates not just his struggle, but the worldwide conundrum of maintaining hard-won weight loss. It painfully underscores how our bodies valiantly fight back to regain what was lost, and not in the sweet, romantic way of a Nicholas Sparks’ novel.
As we turn the pages to further chapters in this series, we'll dig deeper into this convoluted biology-based mystery called obesity, and the uphill battles that come with it. We'll shed light on the enigmatic causes of weight gain, understanding the seemingly Sisyphean task of weight loss, and most critically, come to grips with the Herculean effort to sustain that hard-earned weight loss victory. Better understanding this battle is our first, essential step forward in overcoming it. Together, we can transform this weighty issue into a flight of hope.