By now, we are all aware of the various health risks associated with being overweight. While carrying excess weight doesn't automatically mean you are unhealthy, it does put you at risk of suffering from various health problems in the long term including diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers.
Being fat or thin attracts certain judgments based on social standards, but ultimately, a person's size doesn't necessarily equate to their overall health or mean that they should be treated differently because of it.
However, the media is very image-focused and places a huge emphasis on perfection and trying to attain it. Celebrities regularly have their weight analysed and critiqued by the media and it is this pressure to look good that results in many people feeling inadequate. At any one time, around 1 in 4 Brits are trying to lose weight, and this is not just for health reasons, but because they feel they should look a certain way.
According to The World Health Organisation (WHO), being overweight means having a BMI greater than or equal to 25, while a BMI of 30 or more means obesity. Worldwide, obesity has more than doubled since 1980. The National Institute of Health (NIH) now estimates that around 300,000 deaths every year are caused by obesity, while 1 in 11 deaths within the UK is linked to carrying excess weight. All of these figures show that obesity-related illness is a real health risk and for these reasons, it makes sense to monitor your weight carefully.
While being overweight doesn't mean you should be treated differently, many people judge those who are obese as lazy or lacking in the motivation to take care of themselves. These are stereotypes that, while they may sometimes apply, are not completely accurate. Afterall, it is also possible to be thin while not taking care of your health.
Overeating and lack of exercise is the main cause of obesity, but there can be other factors involved too. These include genetics, a sedentary lifestyle, unhealthy habits, medication, age, poor sleep patterns and environmental factors.
Hormones can also contribute towards weight gain and an underactive thyroid is another possible cause of obesity. A lack of thyroid hormones can slow the metabolism, making you feel tired and weak in the process, potentially making exercise more difficult too.
All of the above factors can contribute to obesity and make it difficult to lose the weight once the pounds have piled on. Being judged for your weight isn't nice but it does happen since as humans we tend to make judgments based on our first encounters with people.
Recently, those on both sides of the debate have acknowledged that a 'fat shaming' culture has emerged. There are many who feel it is unacceptable to pass judgments against obese people or discriminate against them in any way. However, this has been criticized for allowing people to avoid taking responsibility in caring for their body.
While it's helpful to avoid using offensive language that might upset people with regards to their weight, it's also important to be realistic and honest about someone's size, especially if it could cost them their health in the long term.