Higher Body MassObesity prevention and active lifestyle promotion still remain among the most topical problems of social health, along with heart disease and cancer prevention. Despite great social efforts, massive campaigns in modern media and other social events, obesity rates go on increasing. It is estimated that, in particular, in Australia, by the year 2025 obesity rates will be much higher, especially in those citizens who have low educational status or experience other types of social inequality related to education and lifestyle. Those are the conclusions of an Australian study by a group of experts for Melbourne, led by Dr Kathryn Backholer, Baker IDI researcher, which were published in July 2012 in  the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

After analyzing current tendencies and plenty of scientific data on a large number of people in Australia, the scientists came to the conclusion that in the nearest future, obesity rates among those who do not have a university degree will continue rising and will almost double in the year 2025. It will increase from 23 per cent in 2000 to almost 44 per cent in 2025. At that, this rise will take place only among those with higher body mass, who experience social inequality like low educational level, economic inequality, and so on. Social InequalityCompared to these people, those with higher education, a degree qualification, or those with stable economic situation will not experience the same increase in obesity. According to the estimations of the expert group of Dr. Backholer, in 2025 obesity rates among educated and economically stable people will achieve at most 30 per cent.

Australian scientists believe that the findings of their study must be immediately submitted to those governmental, social and educational organizations responsible for health and obesity related social programs in Australia. Dr Kathryn Backholer underlines that most of social programs on obesity management and prevention are targeted only to a certain social layers of people. Australian people experience social inequality even as social campaign targets, and such inequality, as the study suggests, has a great impact on people’s body mass and their health. In particular, the heaviest impact is made on chronic disease prevention, especially when it comes to preventing and rising public awareness about such diseases as diabetes meilltius and common cardiovascular diseases like heart disease, a heart attack, a stroke, etc. Dr. Backholer says that the findings should be considered a call to governmental and social health care organizations to increase their efforts and take into account the differences in obesity prevalence in various socio-economic groups.

Other experts, including Anna Peeters, a chief of Obesity and Population Health at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, studied possible factors and reasons why the links between educational levels or other types of social inequality and increasing obesity rates are so strong. Peeters came up with the conclusions that low levels of education have very powerful economic, social, cultural, and other influences on lifestyle, personal viewpoints, and even social program perception. Even though both groups of people (with a higher education degree and without it) are exposed to public health programs and campaigns, they usually have lower effects on those with higher body mass, economic inequalitywho experience social inequality, economic inequality, personal problems, increased negative influences of various environmental factors, and so on.

It is interesting that the findings of these Australian specialists reflect the findings of other studies, including the findings of European obesity researchers. In particular, in 2010 a group of Belgium experts by the Scientific Institute of Public Health (ISP-WIV) published their findings after analyzing the data on 11,000 people collected in 2008-2009. It turned out that obesity levels and chronic diseases of a person are linked to his or her education level. I.e. those with higher education have 24 per cent lower risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and others. Belgium scientists explain their findings by a higher awareness about the importance of leading a healthy lifestyle as an effective obesity and disease preventing approach in those people who have a university degree. Similar findings related to socio-economic inequality and increasing obesity rates, especially in people with higher body mass, were published by scientific groups from Finland and the United States.

Author Info: Hi! My name is Carla and I am a 5th year medical student at HYMS. I am interested in alternative medicine and I have done months researching the topic of herbal medicine. Besides, I like interviewing people and learning more about their experiences with one or another type of herbal treatments. I am willing to contribute to this site with my knowledge, and I would be happy to help you out to the best of my ability with any specific questions or problems related to alternative medicine.

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