What is obesity?
There is a lot of confusion about what obesity is. Since the TV programme Obese – in which extremely overweight people try to lose weight under supervision – the term ‘obesity’ has become noticeably better known. At the same time, few people know what the standards are and it is often associated with the extreme overweight of Obese’s candidates.
The norm for obesity – other terms are obesity or obesity – is a BMI of 30 for adults. The BMI (Body Mass Index) can be calculated by dividing the weight by the square length. Suppose a person weighs 80kg and is 1.60m tall, then his BMI is 80/(1.60×1.60) = 31.25. So this person is obese according to the standards. One speaks of ‘morbid obesity’ when someone has a BMI of 40 or more.
Is obesity a disease?
Yes and no. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), obesity is a chronic disease in which there is a sinful excessive accumulation of fat in the body that gives rise to health risks. But obesity, expressed purely in terms of BMI, says relatively little about a person’s health and fitness. That is why the ABSI formula was recently developed. The ABSI (A Body Shape Index) combines the BMI with the abdominal girth. The belly size says a lot about the belly fat; and belly fat is associated with an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases, among other things. But the fact remains that someone with an excessively high BMI and an excessively high ABSI can be in good shape. The ‘fat-but-fit’ principle applies here. In other words: a lot of exercise in combination with no or few risk factors in the family says more about a person’s health than the standard numbers.
Is obesity a problem?
Certainly. The United States recently reported that by 2030 at least 44% of the population would be obese in every state. In 1990 this was ‘only’ 12% and in 2009 more than 35%. The increase is enormous. It is certainly not plausible that everyone is ‘fat-but-fit’. The number of people with obesity is therefore relatively easy to determine. It is more difficult to determine how many people become ill and how many people die from the direct consequences of their extreme overweight. Illness is not only about ‘visible’ diseases such as cardiovascular problems, joint problems and cardiovascular diseases, but also about quality of life. The exact cost of the obesity epidemic is speculation. There will now be people who say: “Yes, but the Netherlands is not America. This is not going to happen here”. I would like to remind these people that ‘people’ said the same thing about 20 years ago. And look: the rapidly rising trend of overweight and obesity is also a fact here. It is to be hoped that the government will see the seriousness of this and will actively invest in a preventive policy.