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Tackling Obesity at a Global Level

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Health
Wordcount: 3722 words Published: 26th Mar 2018

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  • Shirley PANG

Obesity has become increasingly recognized as a serious health issue and has aroused public concern. World-wide, 475 million adults and 200 million teenagers are currently struggling with obesity (World Obesity Federation, 2014). The majority are in America and Europe (Ibid). This phenomenon results from diet imbalance due to over-consumption of calories and lack of exercise. Not only are people suffering from several types of disease such as heart problems and high blood pressure (World Obesity Federation, 2014), but also are being suffering discrimination by society as abnormal. The prevalence of obesity has been rising extensively and constantly in UK over the past two decades (Public Health England, 2014). Currently, 67% of males and 57% of women suffer from obesity or are overweight (Tran, 2014). Obesity is not just destructive and antagonizing to patients’ own physical health, but also a heavy burden to the government and the whole economy. This essay will examine the cause of obesity and drawbacks of unsatisfactory levels of obesity. The conclusion of the paper present various strategies used in Denmark and UK to reduce the levels of obesity.

Firstly, wholesome foods such as organic vegetables and vitamins are getting more expensive than ever and have become relatively expensive for citizens. For example, the cost of fruit and vegetables rose markedly by 17% in 1997 and 2003 (DeFusco, 2014). Obviously, non-nutritious foods such as canned foods and processed foods are cheaper, which provides an incentive for customers to purchase them. (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d.). As a result, unwholesome food trades a bigger market than fresh food. Low-income families tend to spend more on bargain groceries, and having a higher consumption rate of junk food in households induces a high obesity rate (Yale Rudd Centre, n.d.) The different structures of price greatly impact chronic obesity, which is why governments seek to implement a fat tax to prohibit such a situation.

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Secondly, moving to another cause of obesity. Continuing physical activity delivers the benefit of burning calories. Without a doubt, people are contributing less and less of their time to exercise that maintains a healthy lifestyle. This globalization of this circumstance commonly occurs because of shifts in economic development and modern technology (Harvard School of Public Health, n.d.). In the United Kingdom, people are less active as result their desire to own a vehicle instead of walking or cycling (Ibid). Frequently diet or eating high calorie foods, especially sugars and fats, which gradually accumulate in the body without regular physical exertion (NHS Choices, 2014). As a consequence, there has been a modest increase in mortality. It is compelling that insufficient physical activity is a crucial explanation for the growth in obesity.

Obesity is considered as a potential threat to life expectancy. Heart disease is the main cause of fatalities, killing 598,000 people annually (FOX, 2013). Heart disease is followed by cancer, which causes 575,000 deaths annually (Ibid). Cardiovascular diseases are come from overweight (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Officially, the expected longevity for a female is 81 years, while for a male it is 76.2 years (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). The measure of body mass index (BMI) is a tool for assessing the appropriate level of weight (NHS Choices, 2014). Researchers investigated the effect of body mass index on life span. A BMI of 30-35 kg/m2, which is regarded as modest obesity, causes a loss of 3 years of lifetime (University of Oxford, 2009). A BMI with 40-50kg/m2, which is considered as morbid obesity, causes a decrease in lifetime of 8 to 10 years (Ibid). Thus, the greater BMI value, the higher the likelihood that people will be afflicted with various types of disease. It is noteworthy that obesity both maximizes the risk of death and minimizes the quantity of life.

We will now consider the negative connection in between obesity and income. Obese employees have diminished job prospects and fewer opportunities for promotion. Theoretically, wage is determined by how much a worker contributes to a company (Cawley, 2011). For example, not only does obesity contribute to limited productivity, which leads to reduced company profit, but it also increases the likelihood of diseases, leading to workers frequently applying for sick leave with a higher cost for health insurance (Havard School of Public Health, 2012). Therefore, an obese worker produces less output and reduces company profit, causing that employer to avoid hiring or promoting obese workers.

Food and beverages plays a vital role in declining obesity rates because of the calories that they contain a huge energy. The UK government has reported that excess calories are the result of sugar (Public Health England, 2014). Therefore, The UK department of Health declared a “Calorie reduction pledge” would be implemented. These days, 39 food companies have given support and signed an agreement agreeing to reduce sugar and calories in soft drinks (Department of Health, 2014). Coca-Cola is a large-scale manufacturer retailing a wide variety of drinks. Apart from reducing calories in carbonated drinks, Coca-Cola is also providing a detailed accounting of the calories in their drinks and providing easily understood nutrition labeling on their improved products. To illustrate, cola without sugar and calories accounted for 42 % of beverages sold (Department of Health, 2014).The producer has encouraged their retail merchants to purchase Diet Coke and Coca‑Cola Zero because these drinks are without calories and sugar (Coca-Cola, n.d.). Apparently, the motivation is to assist their customers to improve their lifestyle though promotion of healthy beverages.

Without enforcement of legislation, advertising continuously promotes unwholesome food products. Advertising has been recognized as a highly effective medium for communication, and for selling products to particular targets, particularly aimed at obese people and children (Dehghan, Akhtar-Danesh and Merchant, 2005). Research has verified that 10% of advertisements promote confectionary or fast food chain restaurants such as KFC or McDonalds during family time (BBC News, 2014). Children and obese people are powerfully susceptible to choosing foods as a result of broadcast stations which promote a variety of food and beverage and large scale convenience food restaurants. Meanwhile, they prefer eating morsels of photo chips, and snacks with carbonated drinks instead of food with good nourishment. Therefore, the advertising legislation was officially announced starting from April 2007 by the regulator, Office of Communications. Ofcom analyzed the outcome and efficiency of the scheme by contrasting 2005 and 2008. They found that children watched advertisement with unhealthy foods 41% less (Department of Health, 2012). With unhealthy products sharply dismissed from advertising, children watching advertising fell by 25% (Office of Communications, 2010). These data indicated a considerable reduction of opportunities to view harmful advertising. Food advertisement is a form of marketing skill, providing a variety of information and affecting food choices and the preferences of viewers. A corporation mostly seeks to earn profits and attain turnover. Hence, rigid rules and regulation on advertising have decreased purchases of fast food.

Physical activity reduces the cost of obesity and improves economic effectiveness. A study has recommended that an adult should exercise for 2.5 hours weekly while an adolescent and youngster should spend more than 7 hours per week exercising, on average. (World Health Organization, 2010). The unexpected outcome was that merely 27.1% of high school students actually allocate 60 minutes for a daily exercise (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). The survey indicated that less than 48% of adults fulfilled the requirement(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014).

The imposition of taxes is a global strategy used to reduce the prevalence of obesity by shifting food choice to away from the consumption of unhealthy and fatty foods. In fact, taxing is not only implemented to curb obesity, it is used to improve the average life experience by reducing heath disease and other serious illnesses (Kaplan, 2013). Denmark as an example, being the first European country to apply a surcharge on high saturated foods. The surcharges were applied to foods containing more than 2.3% of saturated fats, butter, meat and Danish pastries (Channel 4 News, 2011). Prices increased sharply by 14% for oils and fats, 4% for meats and 3% for milk (Petkantchin, 2013).In addition, healthier foods are taxed favorably versus junk foods which are taxed heavily, making them costly. As a result of, consumers lowered their demand for butter, cream and cheese by almost 7% (Snowdon, 2013). Not all the consumers could suffer the increase in the price, especially for those needy people. For public of the view, perspective of tax collecting was pessimistic although markup the price to regulated consumer purchase fatty food. The public was displeased about the increased prices due to taxation however the tax was successful at reducing the consumption of fatty foods.


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