The World Obesity Federation (WOF) has issued a warning that by 2035, Asia is likely to face a severe obesity epidemic, with over 50% of the region’s population being overweight.
Urgent action is needed from governments, healthcare professionals, and individuals to address this pressing issue.
What Is The Definition Of Obesity?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a medical condition characterized by excessive body fat accumulation that poses a risk to an individual’s health. It is typically measured using a person’s body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing their weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared.
A BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese, while a BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. Obesity is associated with a range of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. As per the WHO, it is a growing issue worldwide and requires urgent attention from the global community.
The BMI range explained
- BMI below 18.5: Underweight
- BMI between 18.5 and 24.9: Normal or healthy weight
- BMI between 25 and 29.9: Overweight
- BMI of 30 or higher: Obese
It’s important to note that while BMI is a useful tool for assessing a person’s weight status, it does have some limitations. For example, it does not take into account factors such as muscle mass, which can affect a person’s weight but not necessarily their health. Additionally, some ethnic groups may have different body compositions that can impact their BMI interpretation. Therefore, it’s critical to use BMI in conjunction with other measures of health, such as waist circumference and blood pressure, to get a more accurate picture of an individual’s health status.
Contributing Factors To The Obesity Epidemic In Asia
One of the primary drivers of the obesity epidemic in Asia is the shift in diet. As economies have grown and lifestyles have become more affluent, people have moved away from traditional diets and towards a more Westernized diet that is high in fat, sugar, and salt. This shift has led to an increase in the consumption of processed foods, fast food, and sugary drinks, all of which are major contributors to obesity.
Another contributing factor to the obesity epidemic in Asia is a lack of physical activity. As lifestyles have become more sedentary, with people spending more time in front of screens and less time engaging in physical activity, obesity rates have increased. This is particularly true in urban areas, where people are less likely to walk or cycle to work and more likely to use cars or public transport.
Economic Impact of the Epidemic on Asia
The obesity epidemic in Asia is not just a health concern, but also an economic one. According to the WOF, the economic impact of overweight and obesity is likely to surpass $4 trillion by 2035. Obesity-related illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, are expensive to treat, and they can have a significant impact on a country’s economy. In addition, obesity can lead to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism, further impacting the economy.
Solutions to Address the Issue
Governments in Asia must take a proactive approach to address the obesity epidemic. One of the most effective ways to do this is through education. Governments should educate people about the importance of a healthy diet and regular physical activity. This education should be targeted not only at adults but also at children, who are more likely to adopt healthy habits if they learn them at a young age. Governments should also consider implementing policies to promote healthy eating and physical activity. This could include measures such as taxes on sugary drinks, restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods to children, and the creation of public spaces for physical activity, such as parks and bike paths.
Healthcare professionals also have an important role to play in addressing the obesity epidemic. They should work with individuals to develop personalized diet and exercise plans that are sustainable and effective. Individuals also have a responsibility to take action to address the obesity epidemic. This includes making an effort to adopt healthy habits, such as eating a balanced diet and engaging in regular physical activity. Low-impact changes can be effective, such as walking or cycling to work instead of driving, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and choosing water over sugary drinks.
The obesity epidemic in Asia is a significant concern that requires urgent attention from all stakeholders. Through education, policy changes, and personal responsibility, we can make progress towards a healthier and more sustainable future for Asia.