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Obesity being a non -communicable disease has a big impact on many things. It is a battle that has affected so many and a fight that is still being fought for many years in the past and the ones to come. Not only does it affect one individual, but it affects many people around the globe increasing the chance of other health problems and life expectancy. The personal affect on the individual is with their health mentally and physically but there is also the economical affect that it has impacted on the health care system financially. Obesity is a major health concern that impacts both children and adults.
Obesity, what is it, what does it do, how is it contracted, or acquired? The very definition of obesity can change with what you hear or see. It is an indication that a person weighs more than what is considered healthy. It is a chronic condition that last for many months and even lifetimes and is defined by the mass amount of extra body fat that is stored on a person and can be linked to other coexisting disorders. Every shape of a being is said to have a certain amount of body fat that is necessary for their bodies to function, such as storing energy and heat insulation. A person’s, height and weight are said to determine what those healthy amounts should be, and anything can begin to effect a person’s health causing issues and changing a person’s quality of life physically and mentally and in return imposing a burden in healthcare cost and is becoming the largest and fastest growing problem all around the world. (Rao, Rao, Candasa, & Bhattamisra, 2019)
This disease is non- communicable but does cause a wide variety of health problems such as high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, high cholesterol, arthrosclerosis and increasing mortality rate. As stated above, obesity itself is describing the amount of body mass in direct correlation to the height of the individual being measured. The effect the human body, however, becomes a pathological problem for the individual and those professionals tasked in caring for said individual. Obesity leads to many pathological disorders that the individual may not have normally been susceptible to, but actually contracts diseases such as diabetes and cardio conditions. Aside from the direct burden on the individual’s health, the impact of this condition is felt worldwide with aspect to financial burden on health insurance and pharmaceutical companies which in turn affect the individuals paying higher insurance premiums. This condition can also be genetic in nature such as the case with Prader-Willi syndrome (Rao, Rao, Candasa, & Bhattamisra, 2019) According to the CDC, 39.8% of Americans are obese. This is a staggering 1 of every 2.5 people in the United States are considered obese (CDC, 2018). One of the biggest factors in this could be that processed foods or foods with high fat content are easily available and, in many cases, significantly cheaper than healthier or natural food choices. In the super busy lifestyles of today that many Americans face, it is much easier and cheaper to go to a fast food restaurant for a meal than to buy the fresh ingredients and prepare healthier food choices at home. The CDC estimated that in 2008 the annual medical cost for Americans with obesity related health issues was $147 billion dollars or $1,429 higher per person with obesity than those persons considered to have a normal weight (CDC, 2018). According to a Time magazine online article that cited the New England Journal of Medicine, over 1/3 of the entire population worldwide fell into the obese category which equates to about 2 billion people which include children’s statistical data as well as adult data. The study looked at data that ranged from the year 1980 through the year 2015, which also was the time frame in which cable television became the main source of information for consumers and the fast food era in America. We are bombarded daily with advertisement for delicious looking “food” that, actually, has very little food value and high content of fat, carbohydrates, and sodium. This same study found that in 2015 alone, 107 million children and 603 adults in America were obese with 4 million deaths the same year were from complications related to have a high or obese body mass index or BMI with 2/3 of the deaths resulting from heart disease (Sifferlin, 2017).
Today we have a culture of being perfect. Every day, we are bombarded with ads about how to solve unwanted issues to the point of making and individual feel that they are flawed even if they are not. A January 2, 2013 U.S. News article stated the annual amount spent in America for the year 2012 on weight loss was a staggering $60 billion dollars. With this kind of money being spent by Americans it is easy to see how making a person feel imperfect or even down right “fat Shaming” is commonplace in this country. The problem is that this feeling can often make those who are already suffering from the lack of confidence in appearance or low self-esteem take drastic or even dangerous measures to try to be “perfect.” These can include making radical decisions for surgeries, or the latest miracle drug for rapid weight loss that personal health and safety take a back seat. Such is the case with the dietary supplement Ephedra which was popular in many over the counter diet supplements and drinks. In December 2003, the FDA announced it was banning the sale of anything containing ephedra. It was the first time any herbal supplement had been banned in the U.S. by the FDA. The supplement had the same effect on the human body as amphetamines. Ephedra gained the national spotlight in 2003 and being determined to be the cause of death for the 23-year-old Baltimore Orioles pitch Steve Bechler (Harvard Health Publishing, 2004). WE, as a culture in America, have made being obese a huge taboo like the obese person be a social outcast or not acceptable in social setting often leaving them feeling alone and withdrawn.
As a professional, PTA’s must take note of the many underlying conditions associated with obesity that can be a contraindication for many treatments such as diabetes 2 or inflexibility from muscle atrophy. PTA’s also needed to consider the extra weight of an obese individual that may require an extra PTA or specialty equipment to assist in treatments because the patient may become fatigued easily. The patients home environment and how it impacts them, their job if it’s a sedentary job or not are all areas they must investigate. The full lifestyle changes stem from many areas around that involve the client. Physical therapy can help prevent further injury to a client who is obese in finding the safest ways to preform exercises and play a positive role in promoting a healthier lifestyle through wellness, injury prevention and strength training. Even though therapy doesn’t treat obesity as itself it does treat the things it impacts such as the damage of joints from the impact of the extra weight. In treating those areas, you must address the factors along with it in order to overcome and improve on to a better and healthier life.
- Adult Obesity Facts | Overweight & Obesity | CDC. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html
- Controlling the global obesity epidemic. (2013, December 06). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/obesity/en/
- Hart, M. N., & Loeffler, A. G. (2018). Introduction to human disease. Burlington: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
- Harvard Health Publishing. (2004). Why the FDA banned ephedra. Retrieved from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/ephedra-ban
- Rao, V., Rao, V. B., Candasa, M., & Bhattamisra, S. K. (2019). Obesity an overview: Genetic conditions and recent developments in therapeutic interventions. 13(3), 2112-2120. Retrieved from https://www-sciencedirect-com.db08.linccweb.org/science/article/pii/S1871402119302620.
- Sifferlin, A. (2017, June 12). Obesity: 30% of People In the World Are Obese or Overweight. Retrieved from https://time.com/4813075/obesity-overweight-weight-loss/
- Vasanth Rao, V. R. B., Candasamy, M., & Bhattamisra, S. K. (2019). Obesity an overview: Genetic conditions and recent developments in therapeutic interventions. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews, 13(3), 2112–2120. https://doi-org.db08.linccweb.org/10.1016/j.dsx.2019.05.004
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