The reasons to obesity in this modern age.
Statistics have shown that there has been a growing trend of obesity in Asia Pacific region. In fact, the entire world is having an increasing number of people who are obese and that would cause a rise in obesity related diseases. In addition, the rapid increase in obesity prevalence over recent years suggests that there are various factors that are affecting the energy balance equation in mankind.
Our genes, cultures and societies are affecting the adjustment in the energy balance equation. Changing environment, for example, modernization, are said to explain about 30% of the obesity cases (Hill, 1998). Willett (1998) supported that there is a high increase in obesity in populations whose gene pool has been relatively constant. So what is the problem?
Obesity increase in China due to Urbanization factor
There has been stark contrast between the statistics between urban and rural areas. One major example we can use to show this trend would be statistics found in China. China was once considered to have one of the leanest populations (WHO 1989), but it is fast catching up with the West in terms of the prevalence of overweight and obesity; disturbingly, this transition has occurred in a remarkably short time.
The prevalence of overweight and obesity among people living in rural areas was lower than that of their urban counterparts, while the increment of overweight and obesity prevalence among rural people was greater than that of their urban counterparts (Ma et.al. 2006). According to 1992 statistics, the prevalence of overweight in urban regions (excluding Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin), was 12.3% of men and 14.4% of women and for rural regions are 5.3% and 9.8 (WHO Western Pacific 2000). These are comparable figures that show a vast difference in urban and rural regions. Even as early as 1982 we can see the prevalence of overweight and obesity increased from 9.7% to 14.9% in urban regions and from 6.8% to 8.4% in rural regions (Ge 1997)
Lack of Physical activity
This entire phenomenon coincides with China's rapid urbanization and modernization era that introduced reductions in physical activity and labor intensity in both urban and rural areas. People are expending less energy on traditional forms of transportation such as walking and cycling, and the popularity of cars, buses, and motorcycles is increasing (Wu, 2006).
Availability of energy dense food
Energy intake from animal sources has increased from 8% in 1982 to 25% in 2002 (Wu et.al. 2005), and the average energy intake from dietary fat among urban Chinese increased from 25% to 35% (Wang, 2005).
Such a trend is not only present in China, urban and rural differences in the context of obesity are also evident in Malaysia. Where 5.6% of urban men were obese compared to 1.8% of rural men, and 8.8% of urban women compared to 2.6% of rural women (WHO Western Pacific 2000). In Japan, there has been a 2-4 times increase in overweight men, especially in rural areas (Yoshiike et.al. 1998).
It have been further highlighted in Papua New Guinea and Samoa in a survey conducted in three areas in Samoa in 1978. The survey showed large differences in the prevalence of obesity between rural and urban dwellers (Dowse, Hodge & Zimmet 1995). There were higher levels of obesity in urban in comparison to rural areas: 74% of women in Apia were obese compared with 62% in Poutasi and 56% in Tuasivi. In men, comparable figures were 57%, 44% and 36% for Apia, Poutasi and Tuasivi respectively (WHO Western Pacific 2000).
It's time to exercise!!!
Without further delay, we should get our lazy body out to offset the high caloric intake of the modern world and strive for a healthier, leaner and fulfilling life. Live with fitness!
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