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Obesity and carbohydrate consumption

Author: 
Dr. Yussif Mijirah Dokurugu, DR PH, MPH, MA. and Jennifer Richards, MPH, PT, CHES
Subject Area: 
Health Sciences
Abstract: 

Obesity was formally recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 2013, with several other professional organizations worldwide following suit shortly thereafter (Bray, Kim, & Wilding, 2017). Obesity is a multifactorial disease that results from physiological, genetic, and environmental components acting together (Skolnik & Ryan, 2014) and is associated with several comorbidities, including type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), cardiovascular disease, musculoskeletal disorders, obstructive sleep apnea, and several types of cancer. Globally, overweight and obesity are defined by the well-accepted proxy measure of weight compared with height, known as body mass index (BMI) (Cohen, et al., 2015). A BMI > 25 kg/m2 is considered overweight and a BMI > 30 kg/m2 is considered obese. Diet plays an important role in body weight. There are three macronutrients that comprise the human diet; fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Macronutrients are simply nutrients found in food that provide calories or energy to the body when consumed. Fats provide 9 calories per gram and are chemical compounds consisting of an ester of glycerol and one, two, or three fatty acids that aid in metabolizing vitamins & minerals. According to the study by Cohen et al. (2015), there is a strong relationship between the increased proportion of carbohydrates consumed in total caloric intake, initiated in the 1970’s, and the increased prevalence of obesity since that time. Obesity remains a major public health burden, both globally and within the United States. The prevalence of obesity has increased rapidly over the past 40 years, in both children and adults. This has resulted in crippling financial costs in the US alone, with an overall annual cost estimated to be more than $1.4 trillion as recently as 2014.

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