Overweight and obesity are defined as having an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.1 A crude population measure of obesity is the body mass index (BMI), a person’s weight (in kilograms) divided by the square of their height (in metres). A person with a BMI of 30 or more is generally considered obese. A person with a BMI equal to or more than 25 is considered overweight.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends the use of BMI in conjunction with waist circumference as the method of measuring overweight and obesity and determining health risksas a BMI does not distinguish between mass due to body fat and mass due to muscular physique, nor the distribution of fat.2
Being overweight or obese can be major risk factors for a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, several common forms of cancer and osteoarthritis.3,4 Childhood obesity is associated with a higher chance of adult obesity, premature death and disability in adulthood. But, in addition to increased future risks, obese children can experience breathing difficulties, an increased risk of fractures, hypertension, early markers of cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance and other detrimental psychological effects.5
- Worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.
- In 2016, more than 1.9 billion adults, 18 years and older, were overweight. Of these over 650 million were obese.
- 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese.
- Most of the world's population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
- 41 million children under the age of 5 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Over 340 million children and adolescents aged 5-19 were overweight or obese in 2016.
- Obesity is preventable.
What causes obesity and overweight?7
The fundamental cause of obesity and overweight is an energy imbalance between calories consumed and calories expended. Globally, there has been:
- an increased intake of energy-dense foods that are high in fat;
- an increase in physical inactivity due to the increasingly sedentary nature of many forms of work,
- changing modes of transportation and increasing urbanisation and
- changes in dietary and physical activity patterns
These are often the result of environmental and societal changes associated with the development and lack of supportive policies in sectors such as health, agriculture, transport, urban planning, environment, food processing, distribution, marketing and education.
Why is obesity an issue?
Currently two thirds of British adults are overweight or obese and it is predicted that this will reach 70% by 2034 if the current trends continue.8 This presents challenges to all people of size who may experience difficulties in accessing health and social care due to equipment, building and service process design.9
Hignett and Griffiths (2009)10 identified five generic risks in the plus size patient’s pathway:
- Individual factors including body shape, mobility, comfort and dignity.
- Building space and design.
- Equipment including fit, weight and size capacity and effort to move it.
- Inter organisation communication.
- Organisational culture, policies and staff competency.
The association between obesity and increased risk of many serious diseases and mortality is well documented and has led to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) developing guidelines on identifying and treating obesity.11 Understanding the needs of a plus size person is key, as the individual may require specialised and appropriate solutions corresponding to their clinical needs. Does your organisation have everything in place so that a plus size person can be effectively managed in a suitable environment whilst maintaining personal dignity?
Arjo can support you with the management of plus size people who may otherwise experience barriers in accessing health and social care due to equipment, furniture and building design.
Click below to see how Arjo Specialist Rental Solutions can assist with costs attributable to the management of plus size people.
1. World Health Organisation http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/obesity-and-overweight [Accessed January 2019]