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Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Obesity – The 641 Million People Question

The numbers are staggering! 
Six-hundred forty-one million people, globally, are now overweight or obese.  Four-hundred fifty million people, worldwide, are now afflicted with Type 2 diabetes -- which we know often results from being obese. The healthcare cost of Type 2 diabetes was 825 billion dollars in 2014.  Annual costs from obesity have been estimated between 147 to 210 billion dollars – these are just direct costs; indirect costs from things like work absenteeism, lower productivity at work, poorer performance in the military, heart disease, and certain cancers, for example, add billions more to obesity-associated costs.

Moreover, according to the experts, all increases have occurred in the past 35--40 years, obesity up from 105 million persons in 1970 and Type 2 diabetes nearly doubled for men and 60% higher for women since 1980.

The investigations that have been done on obesity and Type 2 diabetes prevalence and incidence and costs, most likely, demanded a lot of hard work and coordinated efforts from the organizations and numerous researchers, worldwide, who sought to provide the world with this crucial information.

Many more experts are incredibly busy trying to figure out how to decrease prevalence and incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes and on how to cope with symptoms and effects of these diseases as well as the massive burden of costs.

I’m very grateful for all this work from all the experts. Surely, people are getting and feeling better and through the many and varied efforts, both singular and coordinated, the occurrence of obesity has to flatten, if not decrease – it has to!

Among the many studies, though, there is one group of people that I’ve yet to see a large, robust or coordinated study from (vs. just about)  -- overweight and obese people themselves!

Wouldn’t it be great to get a really good data set from a representative sample of the 641 overweight/obese million people or, dare I say, from as many of the 641 million folks as possible in order to glean some insights on how they would like to best treat and prevent the occurrence of obesity. I’m very curious to know the kinds of information that can be generated from a large, coordinated, well-constructed study of obese individuals from one of the many well-funded, influential obesity-focused organizations, centers, think-tanks, team of researchers, or departments from universities, asking obese persons questions like:

  1. How do you think you became overweight/obese?
  2. How would you like to be treated for your obesity? What treatment do you think would best help you lose weight and keep it off, for good?

     3. What obstacles stop you from getting your ideal/preferred treatment for your obesity?

    4. How do you think we can best deal with the obesity epidemic? What do you think we need to 

    5. How do you think we can best prevent obesity from happening?

If we can harness the ‘self-generated’ insights and ‘solutions’ from obese and overweight people, themselves, through a very large prospective study, perhaps, we can develop more effective and efficient programs, treatments, and preventive measures.  We need every stakeholder possible to be involved in solving the obesity epidemic – obese and overweight people themselves, as well, if not first and foremost!!

I think it would be well worth the attempt to get this information, analyze it, and see what kind of results come out of such an investigation. I’d be happy to offer my expertise, time, energy, and service to anyone or any place who is in a position to set up such an investigation. Perhaps, there is such a study and I've not seen it. If so, please inform me. :)

Feel free to contact me with your thoughts or comments.


Mary-Jo,  :) RDN, MSc, MMSc ACC

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