The Impacts of Obesity

I am not religious, I pray to no deity, but Buddha was right in saying “I have the God of a Body”. Wise words to live by, unless you’re the one saying them because Buddha was fat as. Nevertheless he was right and as such the body is to be respected and worshipped like the “God” it is, the temple must be maintained and managed and not be allowed to fall into dilapidation and demise.

Would you believe that I follow my own advice? Probably not. Most people who pen such articles or espouse such opinions are generally hypocrites to some level, yet I do take some minor pride in the fact that I have cut out caffeine, am reducing my sugar intake, drinking more water and (toughest of all) reducing my alcohol consumption. It’s not easy I tell you. Sleep patterns become irregular (no thanks to the lack of caffeine & alcohol), my mood has changed and I feel a sluggishness in the morning. There is no question about it, these substances/foodstuffs are addictive and you will suffer withdrawal symptoms. However, in the long run it is worth it; the last step is to exercise more.

Unfortunately there are some out there who, ahem, lack the dedication or motivation to start let alone maintain such a lifestyle. It’s so easy to slip into fatty foods and sugary drinks and “ooh, you’re getting take-out?” but honestly, is that the way forward? No, no it isn’t. Because there are two paths to choose from, the easy way and be fat or the hard way and be /fit/.

fat person x ray

No, you are not “big-boned” (Source: Unknown)

The fact that it is so easy to be fat is more motivation to prevent it. It has hugely detrimental effects, not just on those who are fat themselves but on those around them. Let’s take a look at the facts, which are covered in great detail in The Obesity Crisis:

  • Globally up to 20% of all healthcare spending is attributable to obesity
  • More than 2.1 billion people (30% of world population) are overweight or obese (nearly 2.5x the number of people who are undernourished)
  • Obesity is attributable to 5% of all deaths worldwide
  • If we continue following this current path, by 2030 almost 50% of the world’s population will be overweight or obese

These are some startling statistics and there is no doubt about it: we are facing an obesity epidemic. Is it goodbye to “survival of the fittest” and hello to “survival of the fattest”? Yes, lest we work at it.

The financial impact of obesity is felt globally and currently stands at $2 trillion, or 2.8% of global GDP. Here in the UK obesity falls into second place underneath smoking for largest impact, costing nearly £47 billion per annum. Smoking costs £57 billion pa and armed violence, war and terrorism cost £43 billion. Let that comparison sink in. Furthermore, the impact on employers is just over £4.5 billion pa.

The costs on the National Health Service (NHS) are great as well, costing around £6 billion a year on conditions related to being overweight or obese, which is around 5% of the entire budget of the NHS. A further £10 billion is spent on diabetes. These total of these two costs equate to the combined “protection” budget for the police and fire services, law courts, and prisons; 40% of total spending on education; and about 35% of the country’s defence budget. I kid you not. At the current rate we are looking at a cost of £10 – 12 billion for obesity related conditions come 2030. So how much are we willing to spend to counter this, you may ask? The Change4Life campaign, our largest obesity prevention programme costs £11 million pa, which is only 0.18% of what the NHS spends on obesity- and overweight-related conditions.

There is also the active petition “Introduce a tax on sugary drinks in the UK to improve our children’s health”, which at the time of printing has garnered just over 150,000 signatures (a minimum of 100,000 is required for a debate in Parliament). To quote, “experts believe a tax of just 7p per regular-sized can of soft drink with added sugar could generate £1 billion per year”. The £1 billion will help levy against the expenditure the NHS already pays due to obesity, but considering the outrage at the 5p bag charge I doubt the public will appreciate it. David Cameron himself appears to be also against it, despite pressure from ministers.

But can we do more? Yes, on our cigarette packaging we have wonderful messages and pictures of babies in hospitals, gammed up teeth and dirty, cancerous lungs – so why not do the same for fatty foods? There’s a plethora of health implications that can be displayed textually or pictorially. I have collected a few to be viewed at the readers’ discretion and have placed them just a bit lower down in the article, careful mind, some of them are less than delightful.


fat heart size of brainCardiomegaly related to a case of morbid obesity (that’s a heart on the right), source.

keratoderma of the heel

Keratoderma of the heel as caused by obesity, source.

2 appendices

2 appendices, top from healthy person, lower from morbidly obese person. Source.

fat induced break, fell from standing height

Ankle break & dislocation from standing height fall, exacerbated by weight, source.

These images dear reader, as upsetting they may be, shows the effects of obesity on the body; and to call this out is not fat-shaming but in fact necessary. A wake-up call is needed to fix this dire situation. Yet there are those who will fight back, so vehemently so that they will even try to change the language of the argument to word the issues in their favour: “They are not fat, they are evolved” “No honey, you’re thinner than me not prettier” “Athletically fit is anorexic”. You couldn’t make this up.

Before I wrap this up let me tell you a little story. There was once a woman who, upon her death, weighed in at an astronomical 200kg; and when she went in for cremation, she set fire to the crematorium. The oven reached 300oC and the filter ignited, sending black billowing smoke into the building. When the firemen went in to tackle the blaze they returned covered in a layer of black, sooty grease. No prizes for guessing what that stuff was. The crematorium officials blamed the cause of the blaze on her obesity.

i need fat acceptance because i love to eat

I bet this makes a successful Tinder profile pic. Nolose conference, 2013. Source.

Ultimately we are told “we need fat acceptance”. Sorry but no, we don’t. There are huge amounts of health implications caused by obesity. Parents are raising their children to be fat. Doctors are tired of dealing with your shit. It is impacting the economy and holding down the health service. Let go of the fat and embrace the beauty of being thin. You can do it.

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