According to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 36 percent of Americans – more than one third – are overweight. And according to a 2008 report from the World Health Organization, about 28 percent of the world’s population is overweight. These are alarming numbers because they are growing in spite of our worldwide awareness of the consequences of carrying excess weight.
It is doubly alarming because in most cases of being overweight, each of us, particularly adults, have virtually 100% control over what food products we consume and in what quantities. There are only two conclusions that can be drawn from these statistics: we know we eat too much and we don’t care.
Since we clearly are aware that we consume more food than exercise will keep in check, we cannot claim ignorance and need no reminders of that fact. However, what may be lacking as part of the second conclusion — that we do not care — is that we may be ignorant to the consequences of being chronically overweight. This is also hard to ignore, but a review of the more serious consequences may be educational.
First on the list, because it is the most harmful effect, is that being chronically overweight is a path to an early grave. The more overweight we are, statistically, the shorter the path. There are so many diseases that have their origin in this one consequence of over-eating, they are pointless to list, but chiefly among them is heart disease. By far, heart disease leads the world’s most prevalent causes of death, followed by stroke and then respiratory disorders. Each of these conditions are consequences of being overweight, along with diabetes; the eighth leading cause of death. Of the top eight leading causes of death, half are directly related to obesity.
Food is energy for the body, but an interesting fact should not be so surprising: the more food we eat, the less energetic we feel. We place huge demands on our skeletal structure, the heart and circulatory system, muscles, tendons and ligaments, respiratory system, digestive system, endocrine system, etc, when we are overweight. Even the nervous system is adversely affected. Physiologically, there is nothing we can do that is as harmful to every body system than the energy-robbing fact of being overweight.
Many of society’s accommodations from clothing to furniture to public and private transportation, restroom facilities and hand tools and devices are designed for use by average-sized people. People who are overweight have difficulty using these accommodations. Sometimes, their use of these accommodations inhibit others not so greatly featured, limiting their opportunity of use at all.
Finally, it is estimated that we use one third of our lives sleeping and that this allotted time is essential for good health. Being overweight robs from a good night’s sleep, chiefly because of breathing disorders such as sleep apnea. Sleep should be one of life’s welcome pleasures, not a nightly risk that we may not wake up refreshed in the morning.