The use of BMI has been criticised as those individuals with high levels of muscle can be described as obese using this scale, however, in general terms, it can have its uses. BMI is calculated by working out kilograms of weight as a proportion of the height and as such a BMI of 30 or over (obese) is an individual who has 30kg/m2 of body weight. Obesity is known to lead to several illnesses, or increase an individual’ s risk of certain illnesses. This includes, but is not exclusive to, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, stroke (and other diseases involving high rates of clotting), high blood pressure and related problems, cancer, osteoarthritis and sleep apnea (Haslam and James, 2005), all at varying severity depending on the individual concerned.
Just looking at this list shows that obesity is a serious problem and not just difficult in terms of finding clothes to fit and other superficial issues that obesity causes. However, these superficial problems are not to be completely overlooked as they may have a severe impact on the mental health of the individual involved.
It is also worth mentioning that the rates of obesity have increased alongside rates of other eating problems, such as anorexia nervosa (Saguy and Gruys, 2010) and this should not be ignored as these changing typical body images may be an indication of a severe polarised body shape in the future. Obesity used to be considered an American problem, as seen with the work of Sturm (2007). However, obesity is now considered by the WHO to be an epidemic across the Western world. Rates of obesity are also increasing throughout developing nations (Gentilucci et al. , 2008) a worrying trend that may suggest that obesity is going to be an even bigger problem in the future and may prove devastating to those countries who do not have the economic infrastructure to support so many individuals with a chronic disease.
The UK became the most obese nation in Europe in 1998, overtaking Germany (Weaver, 2006) and became the world’ s fifth fattest nation as a result (Dickson, 2007).
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