Obesity: Paying a Heavy Price
Obesity occurs when a personís weight is far above his ideal body weight. It has become a major problem in many countries, and it is even expected that in the USA, average expectancy will soon begin to drop sharply for the first time in 200 years because of an epidemic of obesity. In this essay, I will examine some of the causes and effects of obesity in the UAE.
Obesity is a complex phenomenon, but the main causes can be grouped into three headings: poor food choice, lack of exercise, and lack of awareness. Poor food choice is one of the main causes. People today eat more and more junk food and fast food. This food is high in fats and cholesterol, and contains too much carbohydrates. The body is overloaded with fats and sugar, which is converted into body fat. The second main cause is lack of exercise. Most people in the UAE have changed their lifestyle completely, from one in which there was more walking, physical and outdoor activity, into a sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise. Most expatriates and emirates take cars to work and do office jobs. Maids and foreign laborers stake care of housework and manual labor. A third contributing factor is lack of awareness about good eating habits. Mothers give their children too much choice and too little guidance in what to eat, advertising confuses many people with claims for particular types of commercial processed foods, and conflicting information about diets and healthy eating from the food industry and medical experts leaves many people puzzled.
The effects on individuals and society are huge. First of all, a vicious circle is created in which children are overfed and grow up to become overeating adults. Another effect is that people who become overweight find it harder to exercise, which in turn can lead to increased eating. Many obese people suffer from low self-esteem, especially as children, which again in turn can result in increased comfort eating. The medical consequences are huge. Obesity can lead to heart problems, diabetes and other serious health problems, which can cost millions to treat, and which reduce can economic productivity and life expectancy for the country and its citizens. It could even be argues that obesity saps energy from the individual and the country, leading to laziness in other aspects of life. Although in the past prosperity was associated with being fat, today people are beginning to realize the cost of such a goal.
In conclusion, it seems that we will have to reassess our entire lifestyle if we are to avoid the problems associated with obesity. Despite restrictive diets and tempting advertisements, most of us instinctively understand good common-sense eating. However, we have to combine this with more activity and with new insights into the importance of good health. If we do not take action soon, we may find ourselves paying a heavy price.