Fatally underestimated: being overweight is as harmful as smoking

Obesity and obesity more dangerous than previously thought
Most people are now aware that being overweight and obese pose a health risk, but the risk has obviously been underestimated. A high body mass index (BMI) is even more dangerous than previously thought, warn experts from the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases (THANKS).

With increasing body weight, the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases also rises, whereby overweight people have a risk that is around twice as high as that of people with a normal BMI, DANK reports, referring to a recent study published in the specialist magazine “Lancet Public Health ”was published. The health risks from being overweight are therefore even more far-reaching than previously assumed.

Drastically increased cardiovascular risk
In the current study, scientists from the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at University College London evaluated the data of 120,813 men and women over a period of more than ten years, reports DANK. They found that even obesity grade 1 massively increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and a stroke. "It was twice as high in overweight people, five times higher in patients with a degree of obesity and even 15 times higher in the case of severe second and third degree obesity," the DANK said.

Different degrees of overweight
People with a BMI between 25 and less than 30 kg / m2 are considered overweight and from a value over 30, doctors speak of obesity (obesity). The latter, in turn, is divided into different degrees of severity: A BMI between 30 and 35 forms a degree of obesity, a BMI between 35 and 40 a degree of severe obesity of the second degree and a BMI over 40 a particularly severe degree of obesity of the third degree, the experts explain. The current study shows again "how important the fight against obesity is worldwide and underlines the demands for effective population-wide prevention", says Dr. Dietrich Garlichs, spokesman for the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases.

More than 700 million people are obese
Professor Dr. med. Manfred James Müller, board spokesman for the competence network obesity and representative of the German Obesity Society. According to experts, the rate of obesity has doubled in more than 70 countries worldwide since 1980. In 2015, a total of 107.7 million children and 603.7 million adults were obese worldwide, DANK reports, referring to another study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Four million deaths from obesity each year
Globally, according to the experts, “around four million deaths are due to the cause of obesity”, with around 70 percent of deaths associated with a high BMI being caused by cardiovascular diseases. "This dramatic development shows the urgency of positively influencing lifestyles with the help of population-wide, preventive health promotion and regulation, and stopping the increase in these diseases," emphasizes Prof. Müller. Healthcare alone is not up to the challenge of obesity.

Comprehensive measures required
As measures to curb obesity, the German Alliance for Noncommunicable Diseases recommends four main measures based on the recommendations of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHHO):

  • Tax cut for healthy foods with low energy density and low sugar, fat or salt content;
  • Tax increase for energy-dense foods with a high sugar, fat or salt content above the recommendations;
  • Ban on advertising unhealthy food and drinks to children (at least insofar as they do not meet the WHO nutritional profiles);
  • Mandatory labeling of all foodstuffs by means of a (traffic light) system that is easy to understand for all population groups and clearly characterizes the content of sugar, fat, salt and energy.

The last item on the list in particular was only recently discussed again in connection with a Forsa study on behalf of the AOK Baden-Württemberg, since it turned out that many parents clearly underestimate the sugar content of food for children. Clear labeling would certainly be of great help here. (fp)

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