Obesity a Larger Issue than We May Know
Obesity is a growing concern across the globe. In the United States, an estimated two-thirds of the US adult population is overweight, while approximately half of that—about 30 percent of the total population—is considered obese. In the UK numbers regarding obesity are just as daunting, with the amount of people who are obese having just about tripled in the past 25 years.
There are a lot of reasons behind this growth. For one thing, there has been a major shift in the average working conditions, with people moving from living active lifestyles in industrial jobs to spending most of their days stuck behind a computer at a desk. What’s more, dining practices have undergone a huge change in the past 25 years. The rise of the fast food restaurant is just proof that the way people think about meals has undergone a rather large shift. Portion sizes are larger, carbs are more prevalent and highly refined, and soda is a more common beverage choice than water.
Between increased sugar intake, higher daily caloric intake levels, and reduced daily activity, it is no wonder that so many people are struggling with their weight. But even if there is an understanding as to why, it doesn’t clear up the mystery regarding how much of the global population this is impacting. It is impossible to go from home to home and count every person who is overweight or obese, so statistics rely on data collection and models that predict the global obesity level based on smaller samples. Unfortunately, researchers are finding that the data collection method that has been the go-to in association with studies for obesity is potentially flawed, leaving out a significant portion of the population who may not fit standard definitions of obesity, but would significantly benefit from obesity-oriented treatments like medical weight loss programs.
For years, weight loss doctors and researchers alike have used the body mass index, or BMI scale, to determine obesity level. The BMI scale measures the relationship between height and weight and places you in one of four categories, underweight, normal weight, overweight or obese, based on your height to weight ratio. The problem that researchers are confronting now is that the BMI scale does not take into account basal measurements, like fat to muscle ratio. This means that there are cases where a person may appear to have a healthy BMI, but still have a high fat-to-muscle ratio, and so would still benefit from medical weight loss programs along with dietary and exercise improvements, but are not directed towards receiving the assistance they need.
Unfortunately, this oversight means that the obesity epidemic globally may actually be much larger than originally anticipated, with researchers potentially overlooking millions of adults who are struggling with excess body weight.