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A Brief History Of Obesity And Its Impact

The human digestive system has evolved over millions of years. For 99% of that time we ate simple, unprocessed foodstuffs like meat, fish, fruits, seeds and vegetables. Suddenly around 10,000 years ago, human ingenuity created controlled farming and so began our devotion to refined staples such as grains, rice and flour.

This meant that the human diet started to change dramatically and Weight loss began to become an issue. We went from the one which our digestive system had evolved to cater for to one that we hadn’t. In times when most people could barely afford the food they needed to survive, this did not present a problem. However, the industrial revolution and the rise of the mass production changed everything, Large populations became wealthier than ever before, and processed foods became readily available. Greater affordability led to over-indulgence.

Three out of every 50 adults in need of weight loss are now affected by type 2 diabetes, a serious but treatable diet-linked condition. According to the World Health Organisation, by 2025, it is estimated that 260 million people worldwide will suffer from this problem.

Obesity itself is a global problem that is getting worse. The latest Health Survey for England (HSE) shows that 42% of men and 32% of women are overweight and according to The Department of Health and Children (DOHC) 18% of adults and 39% are overweight in Ireland. The most recent Scottish Health Survey (SHeS) showed that more than 65% of adults were either over weight or obese.

The problem is exacerbated by several other recent changes in our society; Decline in activity levels, dependence on fast food, busy lifestyles (many people don’t have time to cook nutritious meals), poor nutritional habits, lack of cooking skills and poor education about healthy and unhealthy foods making the challenge of Weight loss even more accute.

Apart from type 2 diabetes, the impact of being overweight can increase the risk of other health conditions including’ heart disease, arthritis, gall bladder disease, kidney disease, gout and respiratory disorders. Other effects include low self-esteem, social discrimination and depression.

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