quarta-feira, 22 de dezembro de 2010

Obesity, the 21st century epidemic

According to a European newspaper (Jornal de Notícias), “World’s Health Organization (WHO) did the math and reached the conclusion that, on the planet, more people there are overweight than starving. Obesity is no longer a phenomenon exclusive to wealthy countries, since in places like China, where hunger still affects more than 150 million people, overweight has already reached more than 20 million people”. The same source declared that, according to a normative circular letter by the Portuguese Health General Directorate, which was sent when the Portuguese National Program Against Obesity was created, one could read that “the prevalence rate of obesity on a world level is so elevated that WHO considered this disease as the 21st century epidemics”. No wonder that the same letter clarifies that “unless drastic measures are taken”, more than half of the world’s population will be obese in 20 years time.” Obesity is not an individual problem, let alone an aesthetical issue; rather, it is a chronic illness of public health and, simultaneously, a social concern that speaks to us all.

Treatment and possible interventions

The treatment for this disease is dependent on the level of obesity, the general health condition and obviously on the patient’s motivation to lose weight, i.e., the techniques used on the treatment of obesity will widely vary according to the severity of the patient’s situation. The intervention is generally multi-therapeutic with the ultimate objective of preventing complications associated with obesity. Broadly speaking, interventions in obesity may rely on a healthy diet and adequate regular exercise, behavior modification induced by psychotherapy, medication and surgery (in case of severe obesity). On the next topic, a more detailed analysis of the psychotherapeutic treatment will be made, since this is the option more directly linked with our work.