18:19:09 02/10/2019


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Obesity as a growing problem

The merry month of May 2018 has something to do with morbid obesity in Vienna and Europe in several ways. The annual European Obesity Day will be celebrated on 19 May and European experts will be meeting in Vienna from 23 to 26 May at the ECO2018 (European Congress on Obesity) at the Austria Center Vienna.

Pandemic proportions

On these current occasions, the Austrian Obesity Society (ÖAG) and the Austrian Diabetes Association (ÖDG) jointly informed about the widespread illness on Wednesday. "Fat people eat too much and exercise too little, which is one of the most common prejudices faced by obese people, but the causes of obesity are much more complex," said the President of the Austrian Obesity Society (ÖAG), Friedrich Hoppichler, in cited a broadcast. "Obesity is a chronic disease that has now reached pandemic proportions, highlighting the importance of 'obesity' to society, which has made adiposity the largest global chronic adult health problem, and obesity is also becoming a major concern worldwide problem as malnutrition. " Other causes than too little exercise and too much calorie intake were not mentioned by the expert.

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In any case, adiposity should be considered a disease, it was said. "It is not for nothing that obesity was recognized by the WHO as a disease, and nobody would come up with the idea of ​​not treating a patient with bronchial carcinoma just because it was a smoker," said internist Johanna Brix, board member of ÖAG.


"In recent years, brain research has discovered very interesting mechanisms that show why it is really difficult for a person who has once become obese to remain permanently slim after losing weight," said the expert. "For evolutionary reasons, our brains are always trying to regain the maximum weight we've already achieved, which means that people who lose weight are always left with the struggle not to regain weight, and that's how essential the topic of prevention is Obesity is, so that a significant weight loss is not necessary. "

A study from the year 2017 of the precautionary medical institute SIPCAN, in which scientists from the Institute of Nutritional Sciences of the University of Vienna worked in cooperation with the Center for Public Health of the Medical University of Vienna, has become the size of 827 Viennese students from new middle schools and high schools and the weight measured. Thus, this study provided alarming figures for this age group: already 31.2 percent of school-age ten to 19-year-olds are overweight or obese.

Boys are affected more often

"This means that in an examined class with 24 students on average eight at a too high body mass index was measured," said Hoppichler. SIPCAN already presented similar figures for Tyrol in 2016 - 30 percent of 14- to 15-year-old children are also affected by obesity or obesity. It is also thoughtful that in comparison to 2012 data, the number of severely obese children and adolescents has risen from 7.3 percent to 10.7 percent in the past five years. Boys are affected with a share of about 36 percent more often than girls with a share of about 25 percent.

World obesity day: obesity and its consequences for society

October 11 is World Obesity Day. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions: Worldwide, at least 2.8 million people die every year from overweight and obesity. It is estimated that 23% of women and 20% of men are obese in the WHO European Region. Overweight and obesity are important risk factors for a number of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The Regional Office also notes that there is a risk of prejudice against the overweight and the stigmatization of obese people.

The stigmatization of obese people is omnipresent: According to a recent study in a country in the west of the region, 18.7% of obese people have actually experienced how they were stigmatized. In strongly obese people, this figure was much higher at 38%. The stigma can come from teachers, employers, health workers, the media and even friends and relatives.
Stigma is a major cause of ill health and the obesity stigma itself is associated with significant physiological and psychological consequences such as depression, anxiety and inferiority. Eating disorders as well as the complete avoidance of physical activity and medical care can be the result.

Children are particularly hard hit by the obesity stigma

The consequences of prejudice against the overweight and the stigmatization of obese people can be especially serious for children. There are studies that statistically show that 63% more obese children are teased than their peers. Raising peer children and adolescents because of their body weight can cause them to shame and depression, undermine their self-esteem, impose a negative physical sensation, and even drive them into suicide.
Teachers' prejudices against obese children, for example, can lead them to expect too little from these children and therefore suffer from their education. This in turn can lead to lower life chances as well as to social and health disadvantages. Concepts are therefore needed to prevent overweight children from being sacrificed in schools and parents to engage with teachers and school leaders for their children, expressing concern and raising awareness about prejudice.

Ethical considerations and social environment

Simplifying explanations and the fallacy that simple solutions could quickly and effectively counteract obesity (such as: eat less, be more active) only reinforce prejudices and can create unrealistic expectations and downplay the heavy task of behavioral change by obese people. The discussion too often focuses on individual behavior and perceived failure, while overlooking key social and environmental factors.
Governments need to understand the causes of obesity and rely on preventive and early measures to slow down the worrying increase. Furthermore, the state and society must recognize their ethical obligation to act, especially for the children, and not only get control of the health but also the social consequences of obesity. Failure to do so will damage the social and health capital of future generations and increase injustice in Europe and the world.
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