According to NHS(1) obesity is a disease of BMI over 30. It can negatively impact the functioning of the whole body and is linked to(2) higher rate of mortality, high blood pressure, optimal cholesterol levels (high LDL, low HDL and high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea and breathing difficulties, various types of cancer, low quality of life, body pain and increased difficulty in ADL functioning and increased risk of some mental diseases, such as clinical depression, anxiety and other mental disorders.
To adequately treat obesity certain steps are required and the difficulty of applying them changes throughout the whole life, that is with one’s age. As obesity may be treated through a range of approaches, it is important to choose adequate ones and implement them in appropriate manner, depending on the stage of maturity of the patient, his individual needs, situation, lifestyle and eating habits and what’s most important – adequately address the prime reason (or reasons) that induced obesity in the first place. It simply means, that if the main reason that contributed to the occurrence of obesity was improper diet, then diet requires to be changed. Analogically if the main reason for obesity is lack of physical activity, then chosen approach shall address this reason.
As obesity typically requires some sort of change of either nutritional or lifestyle habits, it might be difficult to implement during certain stages of human development.
Children – Children are usually picky when it comes to food, therefore changing their nutritional habits might be a hard task if they have previously gotten used to consuming other foods, that they find rather tasty. It could be really hard to convince a child to start eating more vegetables and reduce the intake of sweets. On the other side, it could potentially be easy to convince the child to be more active, assuming that it’s already spending most of it’s free time playing video games.
Teenagers – Introducing a teenager to physical activity in most cases should be relatively easy, but it can depend on various factors, such as social lifestyle. If the teenager is not socially active, they might not have the opportunity to undertake certain activities, such as team sports (e.g basketball or football) and might be forced to find an alternative. When it comes to dietary patterns, teenagers usually tend to rely on fast-foods too much. Research conducted in Derna-Libya has shown that a significant part of teenagers relies on fast foods as alternatives to full, healthy meals(3).
Adults – It can be quite a struggle to improve dietary and lifestyle habits in the adult population. According to The Sun(4) nearly half of the people say they don’t have the time or energy to exercise. It is only natural to link it to the fact, that a typical adult is required to spend 8 hours out of the whole day (which is a third of their time) at work and finding the time to exercise on top of that might be a nuisance. The same goes for healthy eating, unfortunately, it is much more convenient to grab fast food on their way to work, instead of going shopping themselves and preparing their own, healthy food as both of these actions take time. As either change of nutritional or lifestyle habits (or sometimes both) is required to treat obesity, the treatment itself might be compromised in this particular age group.
Seniors – As a significant group of seniors are already retired, finding the time to do the shopping and prepare their own healthy food should not be a big challenge, however, it is to be noted, that with age, humans nutritional requirements change and the elderly will require more nutrient-dense foods, thus more attention should be paid to what they eat. Energy levels might also be an obstacle as if the elderly complain about the lack of energy levels, it might be harder for them to prepare healthy food themselves and they might require some sort of support. At last, the final hardship would be physical activity. Regularly taking part in physical activity might be simply tricky for the elderly, especially if they are already obese. As bone density decreases with age, it is easier to get injured, therefore special attention must be paid.
To summarise the treatments of obesity might often get compromised by factors such as age as humans are usually linked to certain activities (such as school, job, raising their own children etc.). In certain stages of development certain actions are usually required to be taken by people of certain age groups (e.g. children are forced to educate themselves by law and adults need to work to be able to pay their bills and rent) and such actions might impact the treatment of obesity. It is so because all the activities that are performed by humans cost time and energy and by the end of the day one might feel resigned and tired to go shopping, exercise or prepare their own food.
- NHS, Obesity, accessed on 11/05/21, available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/obesity
- CDC, Adult Obesity Causes & Consequences, accessed on 11/05/21, available at: https://www.cdc.gov/obesity/adult/causes.html
- Salwa Muftah Eljamay(2019), Fast Food Consumption among Teenagers Aged Between (13 To 25) Years Old and Their Effect on Health in Derna-Libya, available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/338106464_Fast_Food_Consumption_among_Teenagers_Aged_Between_13_To_25_Years_Old_and_Their_Effect_on_Health_in_Derna-Libya
- The Sun (2019), Nearly half of people say they don’t have the time or energy to exercise, acessed on 11/05/21, available at: https://www.thesun.co.uk/fabulous/8330064/half-of-people-dont-have-time-to-exercise/