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Global Epidemic

March 6, 2024
crop kid weighing on scale
Photo by Ketut Subiyanto on Pexels.com

The global epidemic of obesity has reached unprecedented levels, affecting over one billion individuals worldwide, according to a recent analysis published in The Lancet journal. This alarming trend, coupled with the declining prevalence of underweight individuals since 1990, underscores obesity as the predominant form of malnutrition in many countries. The study, conducted by the NCD Risk Factor Collaboration and the World Health Organization, reveals a staggering increase in obesity rates among children, adolescents, and adults over the past three decades. Among children and adolescents globally, the prevalence of obesity in 2022 was four times higher than in 1990, while among adults, the obesity rate more than doubled in women and nearly tripled in men. In total, an estimated 159 million children and adolescents and 879 million adults were living with obesity in 2022, underscoring the scale of the challenge. In the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the issue of obesity too has emerged as a pressing concern, as highlighted by the National Family Health Survey (NFHS). The survey revealed a significant surge in obesity rates among men, with an alarming average increase of 11 per cent in 2022. This concerning trend has profound implications for individual health, family well-being, and societal resilience. The NFHS health advisory sounded the alarm on the escalating obesity rates in the Union Territory, reporting that a staggering 31.7 per cent of men were now categorized as obese or overweight. This revelation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address this burgeoning public health crisis. Across various age groups, men have experienced the most significant surge in obesity rates, with a dramatic increase from 20.5 per cent to 31.7 per cent in just a few years. This trend reflects a complex interplay of lifestyle factors, dietary habits, and sedentary behaviors that contribute to the rising prevalence of obesity in the region. While men bear the brunt of this concerning rise, women are also affected, with 29.4 per cent grappling with obesity according to NFHS data. This suggests that obesity is a pervasive issue affecting individuals of all genders and underscores the importance of gender-sensitive interventions to address this challenge effectively. To combat the obesity epidemic in Jammu and Kashmir, a multipronged approach is required, encompassing policy interventions, public health initiatives, and community engagement efforts. Promoting healthy lifestyles, including regular physical activity and balanced nutrition, is essential to prevent and manage obesity among individuals of all ages. Additionally, addressing underlying social determinants of health, such as access to nutritious food, safe environments for physical activity, and opportunities for health education, is critical to creating supportive environments for healthy living. This requires collaboration across sectors, including healthcare, education, urban planning, and food systems, to implement evidence-based interventions that promote health and well-being. Furthermore, raising awareness about the risks of obesity and its associated health complications is essential to empower individuals to make informed choices about their health. This includes targeted education campaigns, community outreach initiatives and advocacy efforts to promote healthy behaviours

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