Information Discuss The Prevalence And Aetiology Of Obesity


Obesity is basically a medical condition associated with the accumulation of excess body fat which may lead to complications or issues to health (World Health Organization, 2016). From a medical perspective, people are usually considered obese when their body mass index (BMI) is above 30 kg/m2 (See Figure 1). Body mass index refers to the measurement of division of an individual’s mass to the square of the person’s height. As a negative impact to health, obesity increases the likelihood of various other medical conditions and diseases. Particularly, such diseases that may arise include certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, osteoarthritis, obstructive sleep apnea and cardiovascular diseases (Luppino et al, 2010).

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Globally, obesity is among the leading causes of mortality, being a leading preventable cause too. This has been caused by increasing death and susceptibility rates in both children and adults. In 195 countries, about 100 million children and 600 million adults were found to have obesity in 2015. Additionally, obesity is scientifically common in women than it is in men. This condition remains to be one of the most significant problems in public health of the modern era (Dibaise & Foxx-Orenstein, 2013). In history and some sections of the world, obesity has been seen as a symbol of fertility and wealth, however, in the modern society, it is stigmatized. A number of medical societies classified this condition as a disease in 2013. These societies include the American Medical Association and the American Heart Association (Pollack, 2013).

In the United Kingdom, Obesity significantly remains to be a contemporary health concern. This condition has even gone forth to be described as one of the leading causes of death which are preventable (Sparrow, 2016). Data indicates that around 28% of adults in the country were recognized with obesity in 2018. These adults were found to be clinically obese with Body Mass Indices of greater than 30. About 60% of adults in England were clinically obese or overweight with Body Mass Indices of greater than 25 in 2014. Almost 6 in every 10 women and 2 in every 3 men are obese or overweight (Boseley, 2016). There is a constant rise in the levels of obesity in the United Kingdom, which may be a major challenge to public health. Statistically, expectations depict around 11 million more obese adults by the year 2030, which would lead to an accrual of 130,000 additional cases of cancer, 461,000 instances of heart or cardiovascular- related diseases and 668,000 cases of diabetes mellitus. These eventual scenarios ultimately increase the associated medical costs by 1.9- 2.0 billion pounds by that year. From the data collected and patterns examined on children in 2014, 17% of children were obese. In addition to that, 14% of the children were overweight (Fat, 2015). Children are now exposed to a number of junk food marketing and on that note there is an increase in the risk of manifestation of obesity (Peace, Rougeaux & Law). According to the National Child Measurement Programme, 9.5% of the children in reception ager were obese in 2018. These proportions become even higher among children between 10-11 years. In both these age difference groups, boys are more likely to be obese, by a slight margin (See figure 2)

Obesity percentages between girls

Based on the combination of data by the Public Health England in three years (2012, 2013 and 2014), Barnsley in South Yorkshire had the highest incidence of obesity in adults with around 35% of its population being obese. Doncaster was identified have the highest overall excess weight number with around 74% of its population adults having Body Mass Indices of more than 25. The different degrees of influence of these sources related to the growing rates of obesity in the UK are often sources of debate. Due to the increased number in the use of private cars, white collar employments that involve only desk jobs, decrease in domestic cooking skills and the readily availability of foods processed with high sugar, salt and saturated fats, most cases of obesity can be seen. These are often cited as the major contributing factors.

Various endocrine disorders have also become rampant in the United Kingdom, contributing significantly to the increase of individuals’ body weights (Dhurandhar & Keith, 2014).


Obesity is caused by various ways; the most common being combinations of lack of physical activity, excessive food intake and genetic susceptibility. These constitute inherited factors, environmental factors and choices of diet and exercise factors. Although genetic or hormonal influences to body weight, obesity comes about in the event an individual takes in more calories than that which is burnt out through physical activity; exercise or normal daily activities. In such a case, the body stores excess calories in the form of fat. Calories are often obtained through ingestion of fast food or high- calorie beverages. In some cases, obesity may be caused by endocrine disorders, mental disorders and medications (Comegna, 2017).

Although clearly as a result of the choice and behavior of eating and lifestyle, some people usually have problems controlling their eating habits. Over eating is in some instances associated with certain biological drives such as genetics and hormones. In this regard, the notion or presupposition of obesity being a cause of poor lifestyle and behavior is far too simplistic (Gunnars, 2018).

There is a strong genetic component in obesity. Children of parents with obesity have a more likelihood to be obese than children of lean parents. This does not however necessarily mean that obesity is predetermined. Scientifically, what you eat majorly affects the expression of the genetic composition, which would then affect the genes that would be expressed on the child. Additionally, genetics may also play a role in determining how the body can efficiently convert food into energy, how the same body burns calories during any physical activity or how the body regulates appetite. In certain accounts, similar eating habits, together with the engagement of activities would contribute to the acquisition of obesity (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

The lifestyle and behavior choices also significantly contribute to obesity, three major elements are notable: Unhealthy diet, calories and inactivity. It can be easily deduced that a diet with high calories concentration, oversized portions lacking fruits and vegetables, contributes to weight gain. Liquid calories also significantly contribute towards weight gain. This can be achieved through the intake of many calories through drinking without even feeling full. Such can arise in cases of alcohol and other high- calorie beverages which include sugared soft drinks (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

An important hormone which regulates energy storage, among other things, is insulin. One of the main functions of insulin is to enhance the storage of fat. The diet in western countries mostly promotes insulin resistance in overweight and obese individuals. This diet leads to the elevation of insulin levels throughout the body, causing more energy to be stored instead of being made available for use. Several studies suggest that this eventually proves to be a causal role of development of obesity (Templeman, 2017).

Obesity in some people can be traced back to certain medications and diseases. These diseases include the Prader- Willi syndrome, Cushing syndrome and other conditions. Other conditions such as arthritis also lead to immobilization which may result in weight gain. On medications, some medications such as antidepressants, diabetes medications, anti-seizure medications, steroids, beta blockers and antipsychotic medications can lead weight gain if not compensated through change of diet or activity (Balentine, 2018).

Additionally, it is generally difficult to avoid obesity in cases where there is no safe place to walk or exercise. The people one associates with or rather spend most of the time with may influence one’s weight. For instance, an individual is relatively likely to gain weight in the event his relatives and friends are obese.

A person is more likely to develop obesity if he is not aware of healthy ways of cooking or living a healthy lifestyle. Economy issues also dictate the inability to access healthier foods. (Mayo Clinic, 2019).

There is also an increase in risk of obesity as the age increases. As one grows old, there is hormonal change and change in the active lifestyle. Muscle amount in the body tends to decrease with age increase. This generally lowers the rate of metabolism (Public Health England, 2016). The changes also reduce the calorie needs and eventually make it hard to avoid obese circumstances. Children from disadvantaged or low-income families have also been discovered to be at a greater risk of suffering from obesity (Pearce et al., 2015).

Another factor that contributes to obesity, especially in women, is pregancy. During this time, weight gain is common. The weight gained during this period is sometimes hard to lose by some women. One of the ways in which it can be lost is through breast- feeding (Mayo clinic, 2019).


The sedentary lifestyle of an individual significantly contributes towards weight gain. Inactivity in this case would mean an individual takes in more calories than is actually burnt in a day. This is easily achievable, especial in the modern era through looking at the computer, phone screens and televisions. These number of hours spent in front of screens are highly associated with weight gain, especially if there is little or no physical activity involved. In addition to behavior, many sugar sweetened and junk food stimulate reward centers in the brain. To susceptible individuals, some of these kinds of foods can cause addiction. In such instances, these individuals lose control over how and their behavior in eating. The biochemistry in the brain changes in such instances, therefore making it difficult to control eating behavior. Obesity, being one of the biggest problems in the world, has relatively avoidable aetiologies. The choices and decisions of an individual prove to be basic foundations of living a healthy and obesity- free life.


Other factors that lead to obesity include stress, lack of sleep, microbiomes, previous losing weight attempts and quitting smoking. Obesity, in this era, alarmingly remains to be one of the most preventable causes of death.

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In as much one cannot control the physiological composition and functions, an individual who learns to control the eating and lifestyle habits stands a better chance in the prevention of obesity (Gunnars, 2018). A drastic change in lifestyle and hard work may be included in the process, but eventual success is beneficial to both the victim and any possible affected party. The fact is that there is need to change the modern eating habits and the culture of food so that there can be a reverse of this global scaled problem. Certain key practices such as monitoring of weight, consistency in sticking to healthy planning; healthy diets and exercise should be implemented so that this problem can be controlled.


  • Balentine, J (2018) Obesity Facts. MedicineNet (Accessed on 3rd December, 2019)
  • Comegna, S. (2017) Prevalence of Obesity in the UK according to Sex, Age and Ethnicity: A literature Review. Sports Nutr Ther.
  • Dhurandhar, E., Keith, S. (2014) The aetiology of obesity beyond eating more and exercising less. Best practice & research Clinical gastroenterology.
  • Dibaise, J., Fox-Orenstein, E. (2013) Role of the gastroenterologist in managing obesity. Expert Review of Gastroenterology & Hepatology
  • Fat, L. (2015) Health Survey for England. Health and Social Care Information Centre
  • Gunnars, K. (2018) 10 Leading causes of weight gain and obesity. Healthline (Accessed on 3rd December, 2019)
  • Luppino, F., Wit, L., Bouvy, P., Stijnen, T., Cuijpers, P., Penninx, B., Zitman, F. (2010) Overweight, obesity and depression: a systematic reviw and meta- analysis of longitudinal studies. Archives of General Psychiatry.
  • Pearce, A., Rougeaux, E., Law, C. (2015) Disadvantaged children at greater relative risk of thinness (as well as obesity): a secondary data analysis of the England National Child Measurement Programme and the UK Millennium Cohort Study. International Journal for equity in Health
  • Public Health England (2016) Local Authority Adult Excess Weight Prevalence Data. Obesity Data and Tools (Accessed on 3rd December, 2019)
  • Templeman, N., Skovso, S., Page, M., Lim, G., Johnson, J (2017) A causal role for hyperinsulimemia in obesity.Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences. Columbia.
  • World Health Organization (2016) Obesity and overweight Fact Sheet (Accessed on 3rd December, 2019)
  • Wrench, K. 2018.Creative ideas for assessing vulnerable children and families. London: Jessica Kingsley.

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