Overview of the Condition
As health concerns continue to rise, obesity is becoming a growing societal issue. It is a condition marked by the accumulation of excessive body fat, resulting in a body mass index of 30 or higher. The reason I have chosen to focus on obesity is that a lot of people in my community are struggling with managing their weight and facing the adverse effects of obesity (Haqq et al.,2021). This condition not only affects physical health but also significantly impacts mental and emotional health, which in turn results in day-to-day life challenges. By gaining insight into this condition and strategies for preventing it, individuals can make informed choices to manage or prevent it.
Cause or Origin
Obesity is a complex condition caused by a high energy imbalance. A person consumes more calories than they burn, and due to increased calorie consumption from eating more significant portions, they tend to gain weight and gradually develop into obesity. Various factors, including genetics, environment, lifestyle, and behavior, can contribute to this energy imbalance.
Genetic factors, to some extent, play a critical role in obesity development, with studies showing that some genetic variations affect appetite regulation and metabolism, increasing an individual’s risk of overeating or storing fat more efficiently, making them more susceptible to weight gain and obesity.
Environmental factors, including the built environment, can also contribute to obesity. The availability of high-calorie increased low-nutrient foods, the cost of healthy foods, and the unavailability of safe and accessible places to exercise have made it more challenging for individuals to maintain a healthy diet (Berger et al.,2020). Additionally, changes in the built environment, such as urban sprawl, have made it more difficult for individuals to engage in physical activity, contributing to the rise in obesity rates.
Lifestyle behaviors, unhealthy eating habits like consuming large portions of high-calorie foods, and skipping meals, can potentially lead to an increased risk of developing diseases like obesity, and a lack of a sedentary lifestyle can also lead to weight gain, as fewer calories are burnt when the body is inactive.
Socioeconomic status can also lead to obesity. Studies show that individuals with lower income and education levels are more likely to be obese due to a range of factors, like limited access to healthy foods, lack of safe places to exercise, and higher stress levels. Additionally, high-income earners are likely to become obese due to their high reliance on cars for transportation. Furthermore, certain medical conditions, like hypothyroidism and Cushing’s syndrome, cause obesity. Additionally, medications, for instance, antidepressants, antipsychotics, and steroids, can significantly contribute to obesity. Emotional eating, stress, and depression can contribute to overeating and weight gain.
According to a Statistics Canada report, there has been a rise in the number of Canadian adults aged 18 years and above classified as obese, with over a quarter of them having a BMI of higher than 30. Additionally, the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity increased to over 60% in 2018 from around 52% in 2004.
The prevalence of obesity among Canadians differs based on age and gender, with women having a higher rate of obesity than men. Wharton et al. (2020) delineate that in 2018, women had a prevalence of obesity at 28.2% compared to 25.3% in men. Those aged between 55-64 years and 65-74 years had the highest rates of obesity, with those aged 18-34 years having the lowest rates. Another major factor influencing the condition in Canada is a difference in geographic placements, with the highest rates observed among individuals in the Atlantic provinces, especially in Newfoundland and Labrador, at 36.4%. The lowest rates were observed in British Columbia at 24.9%.Top of Form
Obesity is a growing concern in Canada, affecting people of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. However, specific populations are more likely to be affected by obesity than others.
Older adults may be at a higher risk of developing obesity due to age-related changes in metabolism, reduced physical activity levels, and changes in dietary patterns. Most of them tend to experience a loss of muscle mass and a decrease in physical activity, leading to a reduction in energy expenditure (Berger et al.,2020). They may also experience changes in taste and appetite, which can impact their dietary choices. Studies have also revealed that women are more likely to experience obesity than men.
Secondly, approximately 1 in 3 Canadian children and adolescents are considered overweight or obese due to changes in dietary patterns, poor eating habits, lack of or reduced physical activity levels, and increased sedentary behavior. For example, children may consume more sugary drinks and fast food and spend more time on screens than physical activity.
Needham et al. (2020) assert that Indigenous populations in Canada are also at higher risk of obesity due to factors like historical trauma, lack of access to adequate health care and nutrition, poverty, and inadequate access to healthy foods. Similarly, recent studies show that Indigenous communities have higher rates of obesity than non-Indigenous populations, with more than one-third of Indigenous adults in Canada affected by obesity (Little et al.,2021). Indigenous people often lack access to traditional foods, which are often healthier and more nutrient-dense than modern, processed foods.
Low-income communities are also more likely to become obese as they often lack access to healthy food options and affordable exercise facilities while also facing financial and social pressures that can make it challenging to maintain an active lifestyle, hence are more likely to purchase unhealthy and processed food due to their cost.
Symptoms and Potential Consequences of Obesity
According to Wharton et al. (2020), the symptoms of obesity are not always immediately apparent. They can be subtle, but some common signs may indicate the condition, like high body weight, which may be difficult to notice until it becomes noticeable. Individuals also experience joint pain, difficulty breathing, and shortness of breath due to the excess weight pressing down on the lungs. Frequently feeling hungry, exhausted, or fatigued after engaging in basic routines is another common symptom of obesity.
Due to its adverse effects on an individual’s lifestyle, studies show that obesity contributes to various serious health conditions and mental issues. Obesity is a risk factor for a range of chronic diseases. For example, it causes insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes (Little et al.,2021). The condition can also lead to hypertension, cancer, and high blood pressure, which increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. These conditions can significantly impact an individual’s quality of life and increase their risk of premature death.
Obesity can also have psychological consequences like depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and poor body image. These issues can lead to social isolation, decreased productivity, and a lower quality of life (Berger et al.,2020). Furthermore, the condition is often stigmatized, and individuals with obesity may experience discrimination in various settings, including the workplace, healthcare, and education, which can further accelerate the psychological and social consequences of obesity. The cost of obesity-related healthcare is also a significant burden on the healthcare system in Canada, making it difficult to overcome the condition.
Lifestyle Strategies that Support Prevention and management of Lung Cancer
Regular physical activity
Regular physical activity is one of the essential strategies for preventing obesity. Engaging in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week has been associated with a reduced risk of obesity (CDC, 2021). This can include walking, cycling, swimming, or strength training. Exercise can help burn calories, increase muscle mass, and improve overall health.
A Balanced and healthy diet
Eating healthy meals that include a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats can also help prevent obesity. In addition, maintaining a diet high in fiber and low in added sugars and saturated fats can lower the risk of obesity. Proportioning meals and being mindful of calorie intake can also be helpful.
Getting enough sleep is vital for preventing obesity. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night (National Sleep Foundation, 2021). This can be achieved by establishing a regular sleep schedule and creating a relaxing sleep environment to promote better sleep quality.
Managing stress through relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can help prevent obesity. Engaging in social activities like spending time with friends or family, nature walks, and hobbies can also be helpful.
Intervention to prioritize
I would prioritize regular physical activity, as it not only reduces the risk of obesity but also has several other health benefits. Research shows that physical activity can reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Furthermore, exercising has been proven to help with relaxation, which is essential for stress management and quality sleep. It can also help individuals gradually work towards healthy dieting.
The dose-response relationship is a concept in epidemiology that describes the relationship between the amount of exposure to a risk factor and the likelihood of a particular outcome, such as developing obesity. In the case of obesity, the dose-response relationship describes how the amount and duration of exposure to various risk factors can increase an individual’s risk of developing obesity.
There is a dose-response relationship between these risk factors and obesity. For example, the dose-response relationship between diet and obesity suggests that as individuals consume more calories than they burn, their risk of developing obesity increases. This means that the more high-calorie, high-fat, and high-sugar foods an individual consumes over time, the more likely they are to develop obesity. Similarly, the less physical activity an individual engages in, the higher their risk of developing obesity.
Other risk factors contributing to obesity, such as genetics and certain medical conditions, also exhibit a dose-response relationship. For instance, individuals with a family history of obesity may be at higher risk of developing obesity. This risk may increase with the number of family members affected by obesity (Needham et al.,2020). Likewise, certain medical conditions that can cause weight gain, such as hypothyroidism, may increase an individual’s risk of developing obesity, and the severity of the condition may be related to the degree of weight gain.
Addressing obesity requires a multifaceted approach that includes changes to diet, physical activity, and lifestyle, as well as medical and psychological interventions when appropriate. Hence, having a healthy, balanced diet low in processed and high-calorie foods, engaging in regular physical activity, and getting enough quality sleep are all essential strategies for preventing and managing obesity. However, it is crucial to recognize that obesity is not simply a matter of willpower or personal responsibility. Rather, it is a complex condition that can be influenced by many factors beyond an individual’s control. By understanding the various factors that contribute to obesity, we can work towards developing more effective strategies for preventing and treating this condition.
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Haqq, A. M., Kebbe, M., Tan, Q., Manco, M., & Salas, X. R. (2021). Complexity and stigma of pediatric obesity. Childhood Obesity, 17(4), 229-240. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/chi.2021.0003
Little, M., Hagar, H., Zivot, C., Dodd, W., Skinner, K., Kenny, T. A., … & Lemire, M. (2021). Drivers and health implications of the dietary transition among Inuit in the Canadian Arctic: a scoping review. Public health nutrition, 24(9), 2650-2668. https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/public-health-nutrition/article/drivers-and-health-implications-of-the-dietary-transition-among-inuit-in-the-canadian-arctic-a-scoping-review/71B1C0B1BE782AA7E17F267E13EA2612
Needham, C., Sacks, G., Orellana, L., Robinson, E., Allender, S., & Strugnell, C. (2020). A systematic review of the Australian food retail environment: characteristics, variation by geographic area, socioeconomic position and associations with diet and obesity. Obesity reviews, 21(2), e12941. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/obr.12941
Wharton, S., Lau, D. C., Vallis, M., Sharma, A. M., Biertho, L., Campbell-Scherer, D., … & Wicklum, S. (2020). Obesity in adults: a clinical practice guideline. Cmaj, 192(31), E875-E891. https://www.cmaj.ca/content/192/31/E875/