Obesity appears to be one of health’s greatest challenges that should be treated with immediate effect and urgency.

Once associated primarily with affluent nations, obesity is now on the rise in developing countries, including Nigeria.

Obesity, characterized by excessive body fat accumulation, poses significant health risks, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) sees obesity/ overweight as an abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a health risk. A Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25 is considered overweight and over 30 is obese.

In Nigeria, the prevalence of obesity has been steadily increasing, fueled by various factors such as changing dietary habits, sedentary lifestyles, and urbanization

According to researchers, an impressionable number of Nigerians are oblivious to the imminent dangers obesity can cause to health and wellbeing, coupled with the fact that some are unbothered concerning seeking medical advice once an unusual weight gain is noticed.

The World Obesity Atlas 2023 report, published by the World Federation, revealed that Nigeria is least prepared to deal with the rising number of non-communicable diseases, some of which are fueled by Obesity.

Concerning WHO as noted by Global Burden of Disease in 2017, about 4 million people die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
This disorder can affect nearly all parts of the body such as the brain, blood vessels, heart, liver, gallbladders, bones, joints amongst others.

Based on the National Heart Living and Blood Institute (NIH), some causes of obesity include unhealthy eating behavior (consumption of high fat and high sugar foods, eating more calories than you use) not engaging in physical activity like exercise, lack of quality sleep (doctors have advised that at least a minimum of 7-8 hours sleep would do you a lot of good), health conditions (conditions such as metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome might cause people to gain weight), high amount of stress (triggers hormones in your body towards hunger yearning), medicines(some weight gain drugs can lead to obesity.
Others like antipsychotics, insulin glucocorticoids that have other uses can contribute to excessive weight gain), genetics (some weight gain are hereditary. Some people are predisposed to being heavier.

According to the NIH, researchers have found at least 15 genes that influence obesity as well as environmental factors; including where you live and the happenings in your environment. People living in a neighborhood with more fast foods and no sidewalks are more likely to become overweight or obese.

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The risk of becoming obese is determined by more than how much you eat. It also includes the type/amount of food and drink you consume each day, your level of physical activity, and how much good quality sleep you get each night.

Consequences of obesity might include the risk of stroke, heart disease, increased depression, joint pain, weakened muscles and bones, skin fold rashes, diabetes, hypertension/ high blood pressure, infertility, and gallbladder problems.

Apart from the risk it poses to health, there is the traumatic experience that comes as a result of the negative societal disposition towards people living with obesity.

Addressing obesity requires a multifaceted approach that addresses both individual behaviors and systemic factors.

Experiences of people living with obesity have shown that they have had to endure body shame and stigma from a society that should ordinarily show empathy.

A Professor of Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ngozi Nnam, who condemned the ridiculing of people with obesity also attributed the rise in obesity to the consumption of fatty foods.

“We tend to eat more fatty foods. We eat too much meat with fats without adequate consumption of fruits and vegetables. That is why you see obesity on the increase.

“Obesity is the risk factor for most of the non-communicable diseases that are ravaging the world today like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and hypertension.

“So, there is a need to increase nutrition education to enlighten people on proper dietary habits,” Nnam stated.