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World Obesity Day: Changing Perspectives and Transforming Health Outcomes


Obesity is on the rise globally and efforts to address it are challenging due to misconceptions about obesity and the role it plays in a person’s health. According to the World Obesity Federation (WOF), one in seven people, or 800 million, around the world are currently living with obesity. That number is predicted to grow to one in four people, or 1.9 billion, by 2035 unless significant changes are made throughout society to address the issue.


World Obesity Day takes place on March 4 and aims to raise awareness about the disease to improve understanding of its root causes and the actions needed to address them.


The World Health Organization (WHO) defines obesity as “abnormal or excessive fat accumulation that presents a risk to health.” It is most commonly measured by Body Mass Index (BMI) and can be calculated using a person’s height and weight. However, there are other factors aside from these metrics that can contribute to the disease.


“It is possible for someone with a higher BMI to be managing their obesity at weight that’s still healthy for them. Weight is an indicator for obesity, but it’s not the whole picture,” says Greg Renfro, CMFFD, PTA, CSCS, Manager, Aspirus Langlade Health & Performance Center. “Treating obesity is about improving overall health and it’s important to consider a variety of biological, genetic and environmental factors that may be impacting a person’s ability to live a healthy life.”


Here are the root causes of obesity that may need to be addressed when treating a person with the disease, according to WOF:


  • Biology – The human body has in-built mechanisms to protect itself from starvation. This can make it hard to maintain weight loss.
  • Food – Ultra-processed food, now seen across the globe, is contributing to the rapid rise in obesity.
  • Genetic Risk – Our genes account for somewhere between 40-70 percent of likelihood of developing obesity.
  • Health Care Access – Without access to trained health care professionals, most people who suffer from obesity won’t reach and maintain a healthy long-term weight goal.


“Seeing a primary care provider regularly to address health concerns and receive preventative care is essential. Someone struggling with obesity can be referred to medically based fitness facility or specialists who can address specific aspects of their health that may be contributing to their disease,” says Renfro.


Renfro says some of those aspects include:

  • Life Events – Prenatal life, early adulthood, pregnancy, illnesses and medications can all influence weight gain.
  • Marketing – There is a complex relationship between food systems and health, with marketing of food having a known link to obesity.
  • Mental Health – Symptoms of some mental health disorders, and their associated medications, can lead to weight gain.
  • Sleep – Lack of sleep disturbs hormones which can affect your weight, as can high levels of stress.
  • Stigma – Weight discrimination and stigma can have significant consequences for somebody with obesity.


The cause of obesity runs deeper than a lack of willpower to lose weight. If you are struggling with obesity, Aspirus Health can help. Contact your primary care provider or find one at



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