The huge increase in obesity in the world raises a warning finger about the health of the population
The huge increase in obesity in the world raises a warning finger about the health of the population. Being overweight has literally become an epidemic that affects not only adults but also children. At the same time, round curves have been perceived in different ways throughout human history, sometimes even as a symbol of beauty and prosperity. The view of them has also been changing in recent years. While just a few years ago obesity was considered more of an aesthetic defect, today’s society already realizes that it is primarily a serious health problem.
Obesity is not only a problem of today, it affected people in different historical eras, including many important personalities, such as Jan Hus, Rudolf II., Marie Therese or Helena Růžičková. These are just some famous names that carried not only social or cultural merits, but also the burden of obesity.
Even today, famous people and celebrities struggle with being overweight or obese, and they also have to deal with the unpleasant consequences of this disease, which causes them physical discomfort and brings other health complications. Obesity and overweight have a negative impact on everyone without distinction.
From a symbol of vitality to illness
As evidenced by numerous archaeological finds, overweight and obesity have existed in humans in some form since prehistoric times. However, they were viewed quite differently back then. From the perspective of prehistoric man, obese people were able to store fat well in a harsh environment where short periods of abundance alternated with long periods of food scarcity. The round body was thus a symbol of vitality and reserve energy, which was crucial for survival.
Over the course of antiquity, the view of obesity gradually changed towards a negative perception. It began to be associated with overeating, and even with laziness or a lack of self-control. It is not surprising that it also reflected the vast differences between social classes – some Egyptian pharaohs, for example, suffered from obesity. However, the advanced medicine of the ancient Egyptians already at that time considered excess weight harmful to health. And it was no different in ancient China, where they realized that obesity significantly shortens life and brings a number of other diseases. After all, even the most famous ancient physician, Hippocrates, pointed out the risks associated with it.
And how do we view obesity today? “We no longer consider it just an aesthetic defect, but a serious disease with high risks,” says MUDr. Klaudia Hálová Karoliová, an internist specializing in obesity from the association Stop overweight and obesity zs, and continues: “Obesity poses serious risks to our health, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other problems that can lead to severe complications, reduced quality of life and, in some cases, significantly shortened life. If we perceive obesity as a disease, because it really is, we will start solving it in cooperation with the doctor.”
From problem to solution – obesity can be treated
Alarmingly, this problem is no longer limited to a certain region or social class, as it used to be. Obesity is making its way into the lives of adults and children around the world, faster than ever. Since 1975, the number of obese people worldwide has almost tripled, and according to the latest statistics, for the first time in human history, there are more obese people than undernourished people in the world. In the Czech Republic, 2/3 of the population is now overweight and obese. It is therefore one of the fastest-growing health problems today, and its causes are numerous – from lifestyle, eating and exercise habits, but also heredity, metabolic processes, to psychological aspects and other factors.
The dramatic development of recent decades should therefore make us think about how to fight this threat effectively. A number of unprofessional and quick diets from magazines or the Internet, as well as dietary supplements, teas, pills or plasters, obviously cannot solve this trend effectively and in the long term. The solution to obesity should consist of a comprehensive approach to this disease and a familiar and simplified type of recommendation “don’t drink and move more” they are outdated and certainly cannot cover all aspects of this disease. “It is important to realize that currently there are already modern methods of treating overweight and obesity, which make it possible to improve the health status and thus the quality of life of patients,” points out MUDr. Klaudia Hálová Karoliová and adds: “This is a comprehensive approach involving the modification of eating habits and physical activities. A big role is played by individual professional help – that is, cooperation with us, with doctors and possibly with other specialists, such as a psychologist, nutritional therapist, or physiotherapist.
It is the new view of obesity as a disease that significantly affects the quality of life and overall health that gives room for new methods of treatment and prevention. Using innovative medical procedures, pharmacological treatment and changes however, in lifestyle it is possible to change this trend of epidemiological threat.
You can find a list of doctors who treat obesity on the website Netlustneme.cz.
Source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, who.int, project Level of health literacy among the Czech public, developed by STEM for the Czech Medical Society JE Purkyně (surveyed 1,650 citizens of the Czech Republic over the age of 18 in November 2020)