Obesity: a global pandemic

There are more than one billion obese people worldwide, and the number is growing. The WHO estimates that by 2025, approximately 167 million people will be less healthy because they are overweight or obese. At the beginning of 2017, Spain was the country with the highest rate of childhood obesity in the world, and currently one in three children is overweight, positioning us as the fourth country in Europe with the highest rate of childhood obesity.

Obesity is a disease that affects most of the body’s systems. It affects the heart, liver, kidneys, joints, and reproductive system. It leads to a wide range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke, various forms of cancer and mental health problems. People with obesity are also three times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19.

In addition, the WHO considers obesity to be a major risk factor for nine types of cancer: breast, uterus, colon, kidney, gallbladder, pancreas, rectum, esophagus, and ovary. Obesity is also the third preventable factor that most reduces quality of life. According to the WHO, obesity and overweight reduce a person’s life expectancy by 5 to 20 years.

La obesidad es una enfermedad prevenible que afecta a la mayoría de los sistemas del cuerpo

The key to preventing obesity is early intervention, ideally during pregnancy. The foundation of the solution is education in healthy lifestyles from childhood and continuing into adulthood. It is important that people learn and internalize the importance of eliminating or limiting saturated fats and sugars, and increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, whole grains, and nuts. Add to this regular physical activity. If, despite a healthy diet and active lifestyle, a person suffers from obesity, it is important to look for alternative solutions and/or treatments that will help put an end to this problem.

At the same time, countries need to work together to create a better food environment by restricting the marketing of foods and beverages high in fat, sugar, and salt, taxing sugary drinks and increasing access to healthy and affordable foods.

Here are some tips on how to prevent overweight and obesity: