If you did not read my first post on Christianity and the Obesity Epidemic, please do so before continuing, as it lays some critical groundwork for this one. In this second post, I explain obesity in more detail and walk through the chronic diseases associated with it. Again, my words are not meant to bring offense or shame. As Christians, we must be willing to discuss challenging issues, especially ones that can threaten our health and future ministry ability.
Obesity is having an unhealthy amount of body fat and is measured by BMI, which is a ratio of height and weight: BMI = 703 x weight (lbs)/[height (in)]^2.
An epidemic occurs when a disease or health condition becomes widespread alongside rapid growth. I won’t bore you with a ton of numbers, but the rates of obesity have risen year after year since the 1960s. Consider the increase in the last 20 years.
Childhood obesity is also on the rise affecting 13% of kids ages 2-5; 21% ages 6-11; and 22% ages 12-19.
The CDC defines chronic diseases as “conditions that last one year or more and require ongoing medical attention or limit activities of daily living or both.”
Obesity heightens the risk of developing many serious medical conditions including: stroke, some cancers, depression, heart attack, sleep apnea, liver disease, high cholesterol, infertility, acid reflux, skin rashes, kidney failure, type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis, gallstones, high blood pressure, fatty liver, atherosclerosis, weakened muscles and bones. Obese children can develop some of these conditions as well.
Stroke: Obesity raises your blood pressure, which is a major precursor to stroke.
Diabetes: Being obese can lead to insulin resistance and full blown type 2 diabetes. One in three people are pre-diabetic and often don’t know it. If nothing about their lifestyle changes, they will develop diabetes.
Kidney failure: Because of the increased risk of high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol, these conditions can contribute to eventual kidney failure.
Sleep apnea: As excess fat collects around your neck, your airways can become restricted, which causes you to stop breathing for moments at a time as you sleep. This is a serious condition that many people don’t realize they have.
Acid reflux: Obesity can cause stomach acid to flow back into the esophagus. Over time, especially if left unchecked, acid reflux can lead to esophageal cancer.
Infertility: It may be more difficult to become pregnant if you’re obese. Plus, your risk of pregnancy complications increase as well.
Muscles and bones: The excess weight from obesity can weaken muscles and bones, which raises the risk of disability. Obesity and disability are often closely associated later in life. Visit this site for more information on these and other health issues.
On average, obesity takes 7 years off a woman’s life and 6 years off a man’s life. Those who are obese and smoke may cut their lives short by 13 or more years.