The society of today makes it challenging to maintain a healthy body weight due to factors such as sedentary lifestyles and unhealthy diets and some term it an “obesogenic” environment.
Sedentary lifestyle is a group of individual behaviours where sitting or lying is the dominant mode of posture and energy expenditure is very low.
Sedentary behaviours include screen-time (TV viewing, computer use), motorised transport, and sitting to read, work, talk, listen to music etc.
In adults, sedentary behaviour are associated with occupation: banking, book keeping, accounting, clerical job, call centre positions, patient attendance, taxi and bus drivers, seamstress, forklift operators and many more.
In November 2013, I conducted a research, aimed at finding the knowledge of health problems related to modifiable risk factors such as overweight, obesity and sedentary lifestyle among 100 market women.
Although the sample size was small, the results were close to and consistent with data previously recorded. About 80% of the respondents had knowledge of the health problems related to overweight and obesity especially coupled with sedentary lifestyle but majority hardly engaged in intentional physical activity.
About 53% rather enjoyed high calorie food like flavoured, coloured drinks etc which have little nutritional value instead of fruits. Close to 83% of the respondents were overweight or obese and about 70% of the obese individuals were already diagnosed with chronic non- communicable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and various forms of joint problems.
Most have been in business for 10 years or more and sit for longer hours to sell. Many were also of the apple or pear body type which are important risk factors for the disease conditions aforementioned.
Since it was not a longitudinal or cohort study , the cause of the hypertension, diabetes and arthritis, easily attributable to overweight and obesity cannot be inferred but there may be a strong link.
Notes from World Health Organization (WHO) global recommendations on physical activity for health
Physical inactivity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality which is about 6% of deaths globally and this follows high blood pressure (13%), tobacco use (9%) and diabetes mellitus or high blood glucose (6%). Levels of physical inactivity are rising in many countries with major implications for the general health of people worldwide and for the prevalence of chronic non-communicable diseases(NCDs) such as stroke , diabetes and hypertension.
Non-communicable diseases now account for nearly half of the overall global burden of disease and currently it is estimated that of every 10 deaths, 6 are attributable to non-communicable conditions.
Approximately 21–25% of breast and colon cancer burden, 27% of diabetes and approximately 30% of ischaemic heart disease(like angina, etc) burden are believed to be caused by physical inactivity .
Many low- and middle-income countries are beginning to suffer the double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and health systems in these countries now have to cope with the additional costs of treating both.
It is proven that participation in regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke, colon cancer , breast cancer and depression.