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Preventing Obesity


Obesity is a major health challenge not only in the United States but in the world, and it is getting attention from health agencies and media globally. Notably, research has indicated that the disease is more prevalent among teenagers above 15 years. Furthermore, explorations have shown that obesity leads to cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. Authorities aim to increase community awareness to eliminate this menace. Health agencies and financiers are also at the forefront of conducting research and implementing strategies for preventing obesity. Some of the methods that have been found to reduce the spread of obesity are constant monitoring of meals, exercising, and weight watching. Physical therapy is also an effective remedy for the problem. Doing scientific research is powered by the need for new interventions to manage it.
Keywords: Obesity, body mass index, preclusion.


Obesity is a health concern globally, and it affects children, pregnant women, and adults. The World Health Organization (WHO) researched on the prevalence of the condition and projected that by 2015, the number of people suffering from the disease would be more than 2.3 billion (Chan and Woo). In developed countries, the prevalence rate of obesity has dropped significantly in the last decade. However, Asian countries and other parts of the world are facing an increase in the pervasiveness rate of this peril. Obesity has increased mortality rate in the contemporary world. In the western world, childhood obesity is rising apparently.

Prevention programs should be implemented by health agencies as the rates of obesity are alarming. According to Wirth et al., the adverse health effects from obesity affect about 24% of adults worldwide. In the United States, 30% of the adults are obese, and in most European countries, the percentage is 20% (Lean et al.). The enactment of necessary strategies should be practical and intervening the cultural norms of some societies. Hence, population-based approaches are proving useful and help prevent obesity in its early stages than trying to treat it in the end stage.

Obesity Assessment

Obesity is linked to various health problems and chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. These diseases cause mortality and morbidity. During childhood, it can lead to both short-term and long-term complications. There is an eventual increase in the cost of healthcare if it is not prevented. The mechanisms that should be established in its regulation should comprise developmental, genetic, and environmental factors of an individual. Obesity is a condition brought by an imbalance in the body energy. An obese person in a day can eat more than 100kcal, and this behavior will result in gain of more than five kilograms annually (Lean et al.). In other words, a positive change in energy balance should be ensured. This approach will help reduce the accumulation of calories and body fat. Physical exercise and the levels of energy consumed by an individual are amenable components necessary for its prevention. In such a case, it is recommended that obese people should eat food that has low energy densities with the aim of achieving weight loss.

Body mass index (BMI) is a necessary and the most important tool for estimating the number of people who are obese. It helps determine whether a person is overweight or underweight. Children can say to be obese when their BMI is above the required limit for a given age or sex. Physical examination is integral in determining whether a child is overweight and whether he or she needs to visit a health care facility. BMI provides accurate body weights and heights, which act as an essential indicator of obesity in children and adolescences.

Treating Obesity

Treatment of obesity should be implemented mainly based on its long-term effects on individuals. Few studies have been conducted on avoiding it, which exceed weight loss. The first steps in the prevention strategy of obesity are changing eating habits, regular physical exercises, and doing weight checks regularly (Wirth et al.). Importantly, treatments should be done in phases depending on the age of a person.

Prevention of Childhood Obesity

Prevention is better than cure, and this statement has proved correct in controlling obesity during its early stages to avoid long-term complications. However, despite the preclusion strategies implemented during these early stages, some obese children remain that way to their adulthood (Pandita et al.). It is difficult to manage and control it during adulthood due to deficiency of leptin and hormonal imbalance.
Preventing childhood obesity should be done on three levels. The first is the primordial stage, which is a way of ensuring that a child is maintaining healthy body weight and normal BMI from birth to their teenagehood. The second is the primary prevention, which involves thwarting overweight children from being obese. Lastly is the secondary prevention; it is aimed at treating children who are overweight to slash long-term comorbidities by reducing body weight in some instances.
WHO’s Regional office in Europe is tasked with developing new precautionary measures. Recently, they called for a comprehensive mitigation of this problem by governments and other agencies (Lean et al.). They advocated for a range of actions that will eventually help people adapt to healthier lifestyles easily. The proposed plans are as shown in the figure below.
Table 1
Core Actions Proposed by WHO

(Lean et al.)

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is an essential component in the control, management, and prevention of obesity. Children during their growth need to be involved in outdoor activities as their bodies are continually growing. It is vital for school-going children and most teenagers to exercise daily for at least 60 minutes (Pandita et al.). Awareness campaigns are also imperative in dealing with obesity and its health-related complications. Children and parents should be able to access information about healthy eating habits and counselling lessons. Nutrition classes should help them understand the need to consume food with low and high energy levels. Hence, they are encouraged to eat fruits and vegetables which are nutritious.
German College of General Practitioners and Family Physicians provided guidelines on how to prevent obesity. The organization declares that sugary drinks, fast food, and alcohol consumption should be reduced (Wirth et al.). The energy levels of fast food are high because of high sugar and fat contents (Greenwood and Stanford). Lifestyles also contribute to the high number of prevalent cases. In such a case, behavioural prevention strategies should be adopted to help people change their lifestyles. Weight stabilization implies a change in body weight and abdominal fat due to increased physical activity (see table 2). (As exemplified, a need arises to reduce sedentary activities, such as watching television, overindulgence in computer games, use of internet, and engaging in other media activities. Though, children are not well informed on the effect of media and how it contributes to obesity it (Pandita et al.). In this case, reward and reinforcement strategies should be applied.
Table 2
Weight Stabilization: Change in Body Weight and Abdominal Fat due to Increased Physical Activity (Phase 2) Following Weight Reduction (Phase 1)

(Wirth et al.)

Dietary Therapy

Nutritional recommendations should be prescribed to obese individuals to help them adapt to the therapeutic objectives of living healthy. Dietary treatment is a long-term way of preventing and treating obesity. Patients should be able to follow all advice and change their lifestyles. Counselling should be given to these patients on individual and group basis by medical agencies. The food that is perceived to prevent it should have an energy deficit of about 500 kcal per day. The estimated weight loss per week is about 0.5 kgs. The estimations are as shown in the figure 1 below:

Fig. 1. Weight loss on four different types of diet with different ratios of macronutrients (Wirth et al.)

Pharmacological Prevention and Treatment

In the last decade, new drugs used to prevent and treat obesity have been developed. The widely used are sibutramine and orlistat (Lawlor and Chaturvedi). Orlistat drug inhibits pancreatic fat intake which will help in both short and long-term weight reduction. The results of this medicine can be achieved when a patient combines it with physical and dietary therapy. Sibutramine, by contrast, is essential in increasing energy expenditure. The pill enhances satiety and helps in burning cholesterol, which prevents obesity. However, they should not be used to manage childhood obesities (Pandita et al.). Medical control boards should establish the safety and efficacy of anorectic medicines before being prescribed for children.

Surgical Treatment and Prevention

Instances are provided when non-surgical treatments and preventions fail, and surgery becomes the only option to treat obesity. The fat in a person can be surgically removed as an intervention for extremely obese patients (Wirth et al.). It is more effective in fat removal than other conservative methods of preclusion and it is done according to the indication of BMI. If the BMI is equal or greater than 40kg/m2, then the person is ranked as a Grade III obesity. An individual in Grade II obesity has a BMI which is greater or equal to 35kg/m2 and not more than 40kg/m2, while an individual in Grade I obesity has a BMI which is greater or equal to 30kg/m2 and not exceeding 35kg/m2 (Wirth et al.). Operations can be used as primary therapy except on occasions when the patient suffers from chronic diseases or disorders. Assessment is first conducted to ensure a person is safe to undergo surgery.

New Modalities

Researchers are working hard to devise new strategies and therapies to prevent obesity during its early stages. One such approach is “hunger training”; according to Pandita et al., this new modality has proved valuable in some occasions. A person learns to eat only when glucose in their blood is low. Adaptation to new techniques that uses biofeedback can help as an intervention of weight gain. However, many people find these procedures tiresome, embarrassing, and inconvenient.


The above-presented discussion has shown that health concerns have been on the rise due to childhood obesity. Chronic diseases have been associated with them. Psychological and social problems related to this menace have also increased, which include depression, low self-esteem, and weak social character. Furthermore, health care cost associated with it is considerably high. The complex genetic and hormonal imbalances, social and environmental factors affect weight gain in populations globally. Preventive measures to solve this problem have been established to address this imperil. Health care agencies have used population-based strategies to reduce excess weight gains. The procedures are aimed at lowering the calorie and sugar intake in food and promoting fruit and vegetable diets. Obese people are encouraged to eat food rich in calcium and low-fat content. Lastly, change in lifestyle, behaviour, and research significantly impact this epidemic. Parents should monitor their children and decrease the time they spend on watching. Moreover, they should substitute these activities with physical exercise.

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