“What did you eat to become so fat?” was my brother-in-law’s greeting when I dropped by yesterday evening. I must admit it’s refreshing after a lifelong of hearing or being asked:
- You’re so thin!
- You’re so tiny!
- You’re so slim!
- You still look the same. I am so jealous!
- How do you keep yourself so fit? Do you exercise?
- Can I donate some extra kilos to you?
Okay, brother-in-law, I’ll take heed not to help move Malaysia’s present position of No. 1 Most Obese in South East Asia to No. 1 Most Obese in Asia.
And parents, do keep a tab on your child’s intake of daily calories. Chubby kids will usually grow into overweight teenagers and adults.
Incidentally, here’s an essay on obesity.
Obesity Contributed by H.Sung (15 years old)
Obesity, a rare occurrence during our forefathers’ time, is now a common malady affecting millions. Today, nearly one-third of the global population is overweight. Whether young or old, a broad cross-section of the population is overweight. Day by day, the world grows fatter. Having reached pandemic levels, obesity is like a rooster come home to roost.
People like to believe chubbiness in a baby indicates perfect health. Remarks such as “How healthy he looks,” echo people’s feelings about the matter. Well-meaning folks who utter such remarks fail to realise how a pleasingly plump tot is more likely to become overweight or obese as they mature. Such is the case of the Pacific Islanders who associate bulk with beauty and health. With an average BMI of 34 to 35, Nauru is the now world’s fattest country with a 78.5 percent obese population.
One might wonder if the people of Nauru are aware that those extra pounds are putting them at risk of developing health problems. Risks like diabetes, hypertension, asthma, liver disease, gallbladder disease, sleep apnea, high cholesterol levels, arthritis, cancer and heart disease are all increased by obesity. The United States now spends US$168 billion annually on obesity related medical costs while the United Kingdom incurs more than £4 billion.
Obesity also interferes with mobility. Extra weight makes movement more difficult and often, awkward. People who are obese often experience pain in the knees and back due to increased pressure on the joints and vertebrae. Obese people have difficulty maneuvering through a world meant for people of regular weight. Revolving doors can become difficult obstacles. Airplane seats and washrooms are tight and uncomfortable places for most people, but especially so for the extremely overweight.
Obese people tire easily. Social life, career opportunities and health may all be impaired by obesity-related fatigue. An obese person’s heart and lungs must work harder than normal to deliver oxygen to the body. Even tasks as simple as walking or carrying extra weight can be tiring to someone with severe obesity. Fatigue makes it difficult to engage in physical activity that could burn calories. Strenuous exercises and sport activities are certainly out of question for the obese.
Not only does obesity decline the quality of life and reduce life expectancy, it also takes an emotional toll. Obese children are often teased and excluded from team activities leading to psychosocial problems like distorted peer relationships, low self-esteem, negative body image, anxiety and depression. For women, any increase in weight is a very sensitive issue. For men, a “spare tire” around the tummy can occasionally be a source of jokes among friends. Obese people face job discrimination as well. Employers will be less likely to take on a new obese employee or to promote an existing one as they have to pay more in health insurance premiums for obese staff.
A recent report in the New England Journal of Medicine, United States stated that obese people are twice as likely to die from disease before they reach age 55. These are sobering thoughts, but the good news is that obesity is preventable and reversible. So it is time to ask ourselves, “What can we do to reverse this alarming and potentially deadly trend?”
First and foremost, understanding how people become obese or overweight in the first place is an important step toward breaking the cycle. Some people blame heredity for overweight. Yet others blame their extra kilos on metabolism or on glands. It is true that in a few cases, poorly functioning glands contribute to overweight but most people are fat simply because they eat too much. They take in more calories than their bodies can use. When the consumption intake does not match physical expenditure in a single day, obesity begins. It is easy to take in too many calories, particularly for a person who has poor eating habits. The easy access to cheap, high-calorie fast food and junk food today does not exactly help people to have a balanced diet either.
It has been proven when people change their diets, they can lose weight. We must eat healthy. Dieticians recommend that the average person consumes 2,000 calories per day in foods such as dairy, meats, breads, fruits, vegetables and legumes. On the other hand, studies have shown that those who are naturally thin only eat when they are hungry. Only eating when our body signals us to eat can be a great way to prevent obesity. People often mistake dehydration for hunger signals in the body. Drinking eight to ten glasses of water per day is recommended as water cleanses and detoxifies all the impurities in our body system. Keeping junk food out of our house is another important measure to take. The lure of sweet junk food can sometimes be too much to bear and we may succumb to the temptation.
Aside from keeping a close watch over our weight, the other effective way to prevent obesity is to live an active lifestyle. People who eat too much food need to increase exercise, however we are getting lazier and lazier across the globe. We lead a sedentary lifestyle lacking in the realm of manual labour and physical exercise. Simple activities, such as taking the stairs or walking to the store, can help tremendously.
People have been known to spend thousands of dollars on quick weight loss programs, diet pills and fitness plans. But does it make sense? Why spend money to get fat and then squander even more money to lose the fat when many people go hungry. A recent study indicated the percentage of Americans struggling to put food on the table is now three times as large as the percentage of the Chinese population in the same position. The proper keys to beat obesity are simple; a proper diet and exercise. The money spent on dieting would be better spent to feed the poor and destitute.
Here’s an emotional plea from an obese man released by Sunrise on YouTube.