Death by excess
By Lubna Abdel-Aziz

Obesityالسمنة rates are spiraling تصاعد across the globe, concluded the 10th International Congress on Obesity held in Sydney, Australia (3–8 Sep). As if we already didn’t know it! The same findings were echoed in the WHO four-yearly conference in 2002, so did the International Obesity Task Force in 2003, and the World Health Assembly in 2004, and on and on, including endless reports from health institutes, universities, magazines, television, and satellites — to what effect? We are facing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and all reports recommend a vigorous  قوية government approach worldwide, to address the issue of modifying the diet and nutrition of the general population. Does anyone listen! Does anyone heedتصغى !
Surely food, glorious food, can hardly pose a dangerous risk to humans! This attitude is reminiscent يذكرب of our struggle with tobacco as a health hazard. Fifty years ago, concerns began to surface over the negative effects of smoking, but we refused to be impressed and continued to smoke. It was only when we started dropping like flies from a series of deadly diseases, that governments began to take steps restricting the general use of tobacco for health preservation. Will it take us another 50 years of hard evidence before we realise the awesome menaceالخطر of obesity? When will we wake up to the fact that the food we eat is killing us? “Unless individual nations move now to rein كبح جماح  in expanding waist lines, we will have missed the boat.” Drastic measures مقاييس جذرية  need to be taken, but when, how, what, where, and by whom? Obesity is already out of control, overtaking tobacco as the world’s major health hazard. There are over one billion obese people (1:6) reports WHO, and almost two billion (1-3) overweight and obese combined. For the first time in history the number of obese people exceeds the number of the underfed. We need help, but we are virtually left on our own, and we must take steps individually and immediately if we are interested in living healthier, longer. Even moderate weight excess (3- 7 Kg) increases the risk of death between ages 30 to 64 from certain types of cancer السرطان , cardiovascular القلب والاوعية  disease, type II diabetes مرض السكر, stroke السكتة الدماغية , arthritis التهاب المفاصل , asthma الربو, respiratory الجهاز التنفسى , and psychological disorders الاضطرابات النفسية .
To maintain your weight your intake of calories must equal your energy output.
Intake: Calories from food.
Output: Calories used up during physical activity.
The solution to obesity is agonizingly simpleبسيط  بشكل مؤلم , your physical output must exceed  يتجاوز your calorie intake. Eat less, move, more. Why can’t we poor mortals get it! For thousands of years mankind struggled to get enough to eat. Once we did, our bodies learned to store the excess fat.
Junk food   الوجبات السريعةand a sedentary  المستقر lifestyle  are the cause of our obesity today, but obesity has existed throughout history. Statues of obese people date back to prehistoric times, the oldest, of an obese woman found in Willedorf, Austria, (circ. 22,000 BC). On the island of Malta statues of obese people are 5,000 years old. Ancient Egyptians must have considered obesity as a disease, placing statues of the corpulent السمين  alongside those of the sick. Hippocrates believed the obese were more prone   عرضة to sudden death. Romans wrote of a senator who needed two slaves to carry his belly for him, and in 1087 William the Conqueror could no longer ride his horse because he was too fat. Stories and pictures depicting   يصورthe portly were common during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance period. Once the property of the rich, obesity is now more prevalent  السائدة  among the poor. Because of the introduction of new foods and beverages المشروبات, such as corn, potato, coffee, tea and chocolate, rotundity became more common during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The misconception المفهوم الخاطىء  of obesity as a weakness of character prevailed for hundreds of years. Now physicians and researchers recognise that obesity “fits all the medical definitions of a disease — an interruption, cessation وقف  or disorder of a bodily function, organ, or system.” Not only is it viewed as a disease, like diabetes, but as an addiction like drugs and alcohol. The obese crave sugar, flour, and fats, and experience similar withdrawal symptoms  اعراض  when dieting as alcoholics do.
Obese people are not happy to be obese. Not only do they have a 50- 100 per cent increased risk of premature  سابق لاوانة death, they are shunnedعدم التعامل معه by society, prone to many diseases, suffer embarrassment, job discrimination, discomfort, lack of mobility, and dream of being thin. Hundreds of centres and aid groups have sproutedظهرت  in the UK and the US, such as Overeating Anonymous المجهول, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, with the purpose of aiding food addicts to control their cravings الرغبة الشديدة .
The terms “obese” and “overweight” are often used interchangeably, but technically they are different. “Overweight” refers to an increase in body weight from optimal health standards, while “obesity” is excess body fat in relation to lean body mass. “Morbid obesity,هوس السمنة ” 40-50kg over ideal, will inevitably develop major medical problems.
” A study from Scotland concluded that their estimated one million obese adults, have a twofold increase in age-related macular degeneration — the leading cause of sight loss in the UK. Trish Richmond of Motherwell, whose blindness was caused by overweight complained that she had no idea her excess weight would lead to blindness. “If they had told me that, I would have been more motivated to lose weight.” We are now forewarned.
The risk of losing our sight, the most precious of our senses, may put some sense into our diet habits, and motivate us to seek a healthier, happier, longer life. If we watch what we eat, limit our fat intake, walk 30-45 minutes a day, a better tomorrow awaits us.
The destiny of countries depends on the way they feed themselves.
— Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826)
 Al-Ahram Weekly  newspaper

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