You know what?! We’re not going in the right direction… While we are busy with one pandemic, we completely forget about other pandemics…
I will not write here about SARS, HIV, Ebola or H1N1. I am not a specialist in these diseases. Some pandemics have disappeared, they are no longer a threat, and some are still going on…
Did you know that nowadays not only the COVID-19 pandemic is a threat to our lives?
Did you know that some time ago other pandemics were announced and they are still there?
Are we just as afraid of other pandemics as we are afraid of the COVID-19 pandemic?
I will just briefly remind you of what a pandemic is at all.
A pandemic is an "epidemic that occurs all over the world or in a very large area, crossing international borders and usually affecting a large number of people." (1)
Do you associate any other disease, a disease that is present among us, a disease that meets these criteria?
I do, I meet her every day… Unfortunately… I see this disease every day, I treat this disease every day, every day I try to stop the further pandemic of this disease… Do you already know what I’m talking about?!
Obesity! My Dears, yes, obesity is a pandemic.
Why are we not afraid of it???
Maybe it’s because it’s been with us for a long time… In the 1990s, there was a significant increase in people with obesity. However, it was in 2003 that the WHO officially declared obesity a pandemic (2).
Why is obesity a pandemic?
Because obesity is “a complex disease, with serious social and psychological dimensions, affecting virtually all age groups and socio-economic groups, and threatens to overwhelm both developed and developing countries” (2).
Because in 2000 obesity exceeded 300 million cases! 20 years ago! And what is it now? 650 million people… Bravo! More than twice as much… Now there is more obese children and young people that the total number in 2000, 340 million…And there is almost 2 BILLION of overweight people in the world now… Double-billionth applause for us! (by comparison, we now have less than 3 million cases of COVID-19 globally) (3, 4).
Interestingly, the definition of a pandemic does not mention the seriousness of the disease, the extent of the consequences of this disease, the degree of mortality resulting from this disease. But let’s consider what are the consequences of obesity? Do you know how many people die from obesity? (by comparison, currently, globally COVID-19 has caused less than 200,000 deaths).
Well, obesity PER YEAR kills more than 4 million people…
Is death the only consequence of obesity?! Sure not! Nothing for free! First you need to get a little tired, slowly die whilst suffering.
I will mention only these four most important consequences, because after all, because soon I’d run out of place if I tried listing them all …
– cardiovascular diseases (mainly heart disease and stroke), which were the leading cause of death in 2016;
– diabetes mellitus;
– disorders of skeletal muscles (especially osteoarthritis);
– some cancers (including endometrium, breast, ovarian, prostate, liver, gallbladder, kidneys and colon).
And now the best! While there is little we can do about covid-19 infection, obesity 100% depends on us and is 100% avoidable. However, while we deal with one pandemic, most of us deepen another pandemic, a pandemic of obesity:
- closure in houses = more seating = weight gain
- closure in houses = more seating in front of the TV and at the same time more unhealthy snacks = weight gain
- more stress associated with economic retention = more alcohol and chocolate stress eating = weight gain
- more slack, because less work = more alcohol and unhealthy snacks, because “finally there is time for it” = weight gain
- closure of gyms, swimming pools and sports clubs = less movement, “because at home I can’t be bothered to exercise” = weight gain
- forest closure = less movement and walking = weight gain
- indoor closure = decrease in vitamin D in the body = higher likelihood of obesity
- limited social contact = more emotional problems, mental illnesses = higher likelihood of obesity
We are fighting one disease so it doesn’t kill us, while we are developing a much more serious disease… Please consider whether you are able to do anything to limit the development of the obesity pandemic.
1. Last JM, editor. A dictionary of epidemiology, 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press; 2001
Main photo: https://bigthink.com/strange-maps/two-maps-and-one-graph-comparing-obesity-in-america-and-europe