Obesity is a medical condition that occurs when a person carries excess weight or body fat that might affect their health. A doctor will usually suggest that a person has obesity if they have a high body mass index.
In the last half century obesity has become an epidemic within the developed world, where it is estimated that over 1.5 billion adults are overweight. Nearly 300 million women are now thought to be clinically obese. Being too fat (adiposity) causes significant health problems not only for individuals but also for families and communities who have to bear the cost of managing the associated medical conditions, often utilising a major portion of the total health budget (WHO, 2014). Adiposity has particular consequences for women and for reproductive health.
From the survey conducted, there are three causes of obesity in women:
- Mothers influence – although 87% believed that parents have a role in the increasing levels of obesity, less than a third gave saw themselves as responsible when it came to their own kids’ weight. A full 57% thought both parents had equal influence on the child’s potential for carrying too many pounds. Yet science shows that a mother’s obesity has a far greater impact on a child than the father’s – kids more commonly copy their mom’s pattern of eating. Add to this that mothers are typically the ones doing the lion’s share of the food shopping as well as meal preparation and you can see the influence she can have, without even realizing it.
- Those around you – about 30% of the women understood that they has a 57% great chance of being obese if they had a friend who was at this weight, 40% if a sibling was obese and a 37% if their other half was obese.
- Overall health – almost all of the women in the survey understood that obesity is linked to heart disease and diabetes. Yet only 30% saw obesity as associated with infertility and gallstones, only a quarter were aware obesity could up the risk of cancers of the breast and colon. And very few realized the link to cancer of the uterus.
Many women are under the impression that obesity is solely a genetic disorder, and think it’s out of their control to fix it. Of course this isn’t true. While genetics play a part, environment has just as much to do with weight as anything.
It’s now becoming clearer than ever before that women’s lifestyle choices not only impact their lives, but can also have impact on the lives of those they care about most.
The concern is that over 30% of American children and teens (aged 2-19) are either overweight or obese. Not only does this cause problems today, but can bring on a host of troubling issues as these children get older. The good news is that a mother can do a whole lot to help her kids (and herself) get on the right track.
Start by setting achievable goals for your kids (and yourself). Eat more fruits and veggies in place of other foods. Aim for being at a healthy weight and be sure to make time for relaxation or play as stress can lead to overeating. It’s also important to be sure your children are getting enough quality sleep, since sleep loss has also been linked to childhood obesity.
Most certainly you’ll want to be aware of the quality of food as well as the quantity. This process calls for answers to some tough questions. How frequent are meals and snacks at your house? How massive are the portions you serve? Could your family favorite recipes be made with healthier ingredients?
And lastly, it’s essential to encourage everyone in the family to get up and get more active. Try to make the workouts fun, things like a bike ride, playing touch football in the yard, or building a tree house in your own back yard. While mandatory exercise can be a real turn off to kids, things that are enjoyable get them up and going and can limit increasing obesity from taking hold.