A study published in the Lancet Medical Journal in May 2014 has found that only Iceland and Malta have a higher proportion of people who are categorized as obese in Western Europe. Let that sink in. The UK is facing a big health crisis after a further study by consultancy firm McKinsey and Company described obesity as a greater burden on the country than armed violence, war and terrorism.”The global economic impact of obesity is increasing,” the study said. “Today obesity is jostling with armed conflict and smoking in terms of having the greatest human-generated global economic impact.” Perhaps the most astonishing claim in the study is: Britain is spending £47bn a year dealing with the healthcare and social costs of an increasingly overweight population.
It is clear that obesity in the United Kingdom is a severe and growing health and economic concern, with health officials stating that it is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths in the UK. Experts have predicted that by 2020 a major chunk of the living population of UK (more than one third!) will fall under the obese category.
Statistics don’t lie
In the UK, 67% of men and 57% of women are either overweight or obese, according to the Global Burden of Disease study:
- More than a quarter of children are also overweight or obese – 26% of boys and 29% of girls.
- The high prevalence of obesity in adults within England is alarming, with national averages of over 40% of males overweight and more than 20% obese in the 16-75 year age range, while in women the averages are lower for the overweight classification but higher for obesity.
The NHS state that an estimated one in every four adults and one in every five children aged 10-11 have obesity in the UK.
Obesity – a health issue that needs to be addressed
The risks of being obese can be severe. Alongside physical and emotional effects, obesity can induce serious and life-threatening conditions including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and an increased likeliness of a stroke.
Additionally, the mental effects of obesity can lead to low self-esteem, depression and poor social skills.
The modern lifestyle of being glued to technology and consumed foods that are high in fat and sugar content is a common reason for the rise in obesity. Instead of being outside playing, children are more increasingly likely to turn to a video game or talk through social media/mobile phones/headsets instead of face to face. Meanwhile, adults are often found glued to their laptop, hunched at work or stuck on the sofa in front of the TV. Generally, this means less physical activity, which means fewer calories burned and excess energy stored as fat.
The battle against obesity needs to start with you, now
Firstly, it is vital to immediately start with a change in diet – reduce calorie intake and eat a healthy, balanced and controlled diet. Combine this with regular exercise and activity such as jogging, swimming or cycling (or even walking, to begin with) and try to be on your feet as much as possible. If you are struggling, there is help available.
Unfortunately, obesity continues to rise and whilst participation in sport and exercise has increased, so has obesity rates in the UK. Regularly monitor your weight, set realistic goals, get a gym buddy to help and remember that a positive change in weight can lead to a much more energetic and healthy lifestyle, in the long run, reducing your risk of the serious complications mentioned above.
If you are looking for an easy running plan to get started, follow these simple levels here, and if you lack the motivation to change your ways, read here about the importance of getting and staying motivated.