Fat Talk: The Perils of Malnutrition
The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Health is more than the absence of disease and infirmity.
A systematic review of 1,769 surveys, reports and published studies finds that the proportion of adults with a body mass index (BMI) > 25 kg/m2 has increased between 1980 and 2013 in men (28.8% to 36.9%) and women (29.8% to 38.0%). While the prevalence of obesity and overweight in children and adolescents hasn’t yet reached the level found in developing countries (~23%), it has increased in developing countries from ~8% to ~13% over the past 23 years.
Within America, Healthy People 2020 identifies nationwide health improvement priorities. Worldwide, the 8 United Nations 2015 Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) form a blueprint agreed to by all countries and the world’s leading development institutions. Looking beyond 2015, in June 2012, heads of State, Government, and high level representatives met at Rio de Janeiro to renew commitments to end poverty and hunger. Yesterday, The Hunger Project announced a new CEO, Asa Skogstrom Feldt, who is committed to improving health globally.
When it comes to diet and health, eating nutritiously involves more than calorie counting, reading bathroom scales, and monitoring waist circumference. Body weight, or adiposity, aren’t the only measure of good health. Nutritional status is important, as is fitness. Being obese or overweight does not guarantee an adequate micronutrient intake.
Obese women wanting to become pregnant are more likely to have poor essential fatty acid status and carotenoid profiles than their lean counterparts. Observational data from China finds low vitamin D status is associated with a higher prevalence of gestational diabetes and preterm delivery. In too many communities, women live with micronutrient inadequacies that are exacerbated by the demands of pregnancy.
Obesity isn’t a social epidemic exclusive to middle school girls from developed countries. Overweight is a worldwide concern. The health consequences of carrying extra adipose tissue need to be addressed. So do the challenges of suboptimal vitamin and mineral status. Health requires nutrients with the right amount of calories.
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