Obesity in Males and Females at Different age Brackets
Obesity and overweight is one of the global health issues affecting both developed and developing countries. According to McLean et al. (2016), obesity results from a sustained imbalance of energy that occurs when the intake of energy from drinking and eating is greater than the rate at which it is expelled from the body through physical activity. The resulting energy imbalance can also be influenced by the genetic or biological characteristics as well as the lifestyle of an individual (Shaw, 2012). This paper presents a detailed literature review on the obesity among the male and female population within different age groups or age brackets in Australia. The review focuses on different aspects of obesity in accordance with different research findings and publications.
Discussion and Analysis
Different researchers have published a variety of information aimed at creating a picture of obesity and overweight in Australia. The results show that obesity and overweight is one of the primary public health complications affecting Australians (Maher, 2010). The study adopted the used of randomized sampling with the aim of summarizing factors influencing the energy intake of different age groups. It also examines the expenditure and contribution to the rising prevalence of obesity in Australia and other parts of the world. The study focused on the different strategies that can be used by the community mainly to reduce the prevalence of obesity among different age groups. On the other hand, Allender and Kremer (2015) adopted quantitative study in their quest to evaluate the socio-demographic issues affecting the health and wellbeing of Australians. The study defines socio-demographic as a set that is characterized by its sociological and demographic factors). It entails age, sexual orientation, religion, race, income, gender, marital status, death and birth rate, education level, medical history and accessibility among many others. The study reports that socio-demographic factors are always used to analyses the social, economic and medical status of the population as supported by Jiang and Telford (2017). In public health, the socio-demographic factors have been used to analyses and compare different kinds of disease among different populations and states. Several experts such as ad-hoc committee of the National Academics of sciences, Engineering and Medicine have explored how various social and demographic factors affect the health outcomes.
Different studies have also recorded different results on the rate of obesity in different state. Most of the population in the developed countries tends to have low rate of physical activity unlike the underdeveloped countries that tend to engage in physical work (Lacy et al., 2015). In New South Wales (NSW), physical inactivity is considered as the major causes of obesity since above 85% of the population in that state tend not to do not meet the minimum recommended guidelines for the physical activity that recommend that each individual to have a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous of activity in a week. Studies however, just 6 out of 7 people within the stat always fail to meet this recommendations, and only 7% of children are meeting suggested amount of 60 minutes of vigorous physical activity. Show that the physical activity helps in burning out excess calories in the body that would have been deposited on the body increasing the mass weight. Additionally, physical activity helps in controlling the appetite rate, hence helps in controlling the amount of food being consumed by an individual. Additionally, studies indicate that France record the lowest rate of obesity since most of the people especially in Paris prefer to walk or ride their bikes, unlike in the United States where there are numerous cars in the streets. Clark, Davis, and Zubrick et al. (2016) denote that different diseases such as cancer, obesity and cardiovascular disease have been attributed to different inequalities posed by the racial, ethnic, education and accessibility to health services.
The statistics are even more troubling when children were included. 20% of all children of ages 2-4 were obese in Southern Asia as pointed out by Olds et al (2010). This is a very high figure because it translates to 20% of Australia’s children. With such levels of obesity recorded in infants, serious public health questions must be asked. Going by gender, the proportion of boys against girls who were obese was recorded as 7% against 9% (Olds et al. 2010). This study showed that male children had a higher chance of being overweight but not obese at the age interval between 16 and 17. On the other hand, their female counterparts were highly likely to be overweight but not obese at ages between 8 and 11. The age where boys recorded the highest prevalence of obesity remains 16-17 while girls had the highest prevalence of obesity between ages 5-7 years.
Obesity is currently a major global health concern in different states since it does not only reduces the quality of life by affecting the daily activities, increases the rate of moiety, mortality, but also creates great financial problem as so much money is spend to manage the issues expanding the healthcare expenditure (Glenister & Pierce, 2017). The study indicates that above 30% of the population Queensland (QLD) are facing either overweight or obesity issues. By 2016, above 1.9 billion adults; that is 18 years and above are overweight and 650 million people among the population are obese, while over 341 million children; age between 1-19 years are overweight.
Relation of social-demographic factors and obesity
Race refers to the physiological subgroups that are characterized by the biological aspects in human populations while ethnicity refers to the different culture and subcultures that exist in human societies (Utter et al., 2010). When there is existence of these two aspects: race and ethnicity in a larger population, body weight differences tend to be observed (Stevenson et al., 2018). Studies show different ethnic patterns in body weight and obesity with minority populations experiencing the highest occurrence of obesity. The beliefs attitudes and perception about body weight differ in these ethnic groups as the minority societies tend to accept higher body weights than other populations. In Australia, the obesity is high among the Aboriginal population that the non-aboriginal population (Jackson, 2017). Possible explanations to this pattern are that most of the Aboriginal are poor and unable to afford more than three meals per day; therefore, they tend to skip some meals especially breakfast and lunch. The feeding pattern makes the supper to be made in excess, hence they over consume food. The large consumption leads to deposit of the excess nutrients and fats in the body increasing the body weight.
Most of the developed economies tend to have plentiful sources of relatively cheap foods that are available to the population (Glenister & Pierce, 2017). From the low of economics of demand and supply, the prices of such food tend to be low since the supply is high, and the prices of these foods have great impacts on the food choices people make. In the developed countries, the cheaper food variety entails those that are dense in energy, providing more calories such as French fries among many others. Studies show that developed countries such as United States experience high rate of obesity than the undeveloped economies that access low fat diets.
Culture refers to the pattern of rules and plans that govern behaviors of particular people. Culture permeates almost all aspects of a person life from how one thinks and how one behave towards food. Studies show that there are about 8000 cultures across the world with more information on the minor cultures such as Aboriginal tribe (Stevenson et al., 2018). These studies have analyzed different cultures across the world but have few investigations on the perception about the body size. Information about body weight was not initially considered as an issue in the ancient cultures, since most of the women who were plump were considered as an aspect of good health.
According to Lacy et al. (2015), culture has greater impact on eating habits than biology that result into increase of body weight and obesity. Cultural practices tend to be imbedded on an individual thinking during the childhood that eventually affect later livelihood, affecting food choice, the preparation and the amount consumed (Peeters, 2018). The current world have allowed migration of people from one culture to another, resulting into modernization that eventually affects the cultures hence eroding and coming up with new cultures. Modernization facilitates the shift of economic production that have direct impact on the overall energy expenditure of the society as it shifts from being primary based to tertiary based. The change in energy expenditure result into accumulation of fats on the body, an explanation to the high rate of body weight increase in modernized countries.
Studies comparing developed countries indicates that there is substantial difference in body weight (14-16) associated with modernization and the cultural differences. For example comparing the cultural difference between USA and France, Stevenson, Shaw, and Magliano (2015) observes that France has low obesity rate of about 23% than Australia that stands at 37%. It is attributed to the eating habits such as accessibility to fried foods and processed foods are limited to few days in school unlike in the United States where all people have full accessibility to such foods.
Sex refers to the ascribed biological status of being either a female or male while gender refers to the social status of being a man or a woman as constructed by psych sociocultural factors. The sexual dimorphisms exist in body weight as females tend to have more fat in the body than males. Consequently, the psych sociocultural factors exist in different societies and countries with respect to body weight: as fatness and thinness are attributed to females than males.
Body image refers to the perception of others on the body size, and it has been a great concern to many women in the world, especially during the adolescent period. The Australians show much concern about body image during the young age just like other countries such as United States. According to study done by Kortt, Clarke, and Brandrup (2016), Aboriginal Australians have high probability of becoming overweight than the general population. The study examined the relationship between age of the Aboriginal women and non-Aboriginal women against the body image and perception from both the urban and rural context. The indigenous Australians girls tend to have greater desire for” bigness” an aspect that is considered as “fatness” among the non-indigenous Aboriginal and western cultures such as USA. The qualitative study that comprised of about 47 Aboriginal both male and female found that indigenous adults placed less concern and consequence on the change of their body image, size and shape, thus resulting into poor body maintains methods.
Age refers to the chronological time from the time of birth. in most of the postindustrial nations and societies, body weight and obesity tends to increase as person grows and then declines in the last years of the person’s life leading to an inverted ‘U’ or ‘J’ shaped graph of life. The prevalence of obesity is low among the young and adult population while the highest occurrence occur during the ages between 25-34 years. Expanding the pattern, Kortt, Clarke, and Brandrup (2016) assert that the relationship of weight and age is biological and psychosocial. It is observable that in most societies such as in the indigenous population, younger people of the age between 20 to 30 tend to involved themselves with more vigorous activities such as fishing to make a living.
Obesity in Australia by Age and Gender
This section of the literature review looks at the prevalence of obesity in Australia going by two parameters; gender and age. It conducts a comparative analysis of existing literature and statistics about obesity in Australia and what they report about the prevalence of obesity among different age brackets as well as in either gender.
Obesity among Adults
Between 2014 and 2015, 1 out of 4 persons aged above 18 in Australia was reported to be obese i.e. they had a Body Mass Index exceeding 30.0 kg/m2. According to Birch (2015), at the time these figures represented about 5 million Australian’s who had attained the majority age; the same study indicated the number of men who were obese was very high. The statistics according to this study indicate that over 2 million men living in Australia at the time were obese. These figures are representative of about 28% of the total adult male population. At the same time, about 2.5 million Australian women were reported to be obese-the figure being representative of 27 % of the total female population (Walls et al. 2012)
According to another study conducted in 2015 as at 2015 close to 63% (approximately 2 thirds of the population of adults in Australia were obese (McLean & TeMorenga, 2015). A look at the trends in obesity from 1995 indicates that the prevalence in adults has rapidly increased from 57% in 1995 to the 63% recorded in 2015 (Birch, 2015). The same study indicates that the population of adult males who were suffering from severe forms of obese doubled between 1995 and 2015, rising from a paltry 5% to 9%. Going by gender the prevalence of obesity among male adults in 2015 was reported as 71% while in comparison, the proportion of their female counterparts who were obese was 56%. As posited by Opie et al. (2017), at the same time, 42% of men were overweight, bordering on obesity, while 29% of women were overweight but not obese. The same study accounts that the comparison of adult males and females who were just obese stood at 28% for men versus 27% for men. This study revealed a worrying trend in the development of obesity among Australian citizens over the years from 1995 to 2015. Considering every 2 year intervals in the period of just a decade, obesity has had a steady rate of increase. Starting off at 57% in 1995, it grew to 61% in the period 2007-2008, and crossed into 63% in the year 2011-2012 (Opie et al. 2017).
Factors Accelerating Obesity among different age groups in Australia
In their study to evaluate the major risk factors of obesity, Menigoz, Nathan, and Turrell (2016) denote that a large number of overweight has doubled across all age groups in the past 5 years. The study points out three major aspects as the predisposing factors of the condition. These include the eating habits of the family, unhealthy choice of food, and lack of physical activity. Among these age groups, Olds et al. (2010) denote that the rising number of obese children, adolescent, and adults is a major health concern as it causes various health complications and social problems, aspects that in the end increase the economic living stand of both native and aboriginal Australian population (Clark & Maddison, 2010). For instance, their peers often tease obese children, an aspect that lead to reduced self-esteem. It also requires more effort to effectively return them to a healthy weight as it is an essential risk to both short- and long-term health conditions of the affected.
According to Khanam (2016), the body often stores the unused energy in form of fats. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight requires one to put the energy into use. Eating more than what is used forces the body to store the extra energy. For both adults and children, the following are the primary causes of obesity include poor choice of food. High consumption of junk foods with high sugar and fat content increases the level of fat in the body. In a systematic study, Green and Renzaho (2014) also denote that the best way to burn calories is living a life full of activities in the body.
Physical activity increases the metabolic processes in the body hence leading to reduction of the body fats used as a source of energy during the physical activities (Paxton, 2016). However, advancement in technology has resulted to more online entertainment hence leading to less physical activities as most of the population engage themselves in indoor entertainment like online games and movies among others. The resulting impact is that people spend more of their time on sedentary pursuits. Rankin and Price (2017) denote that children averagely spend more than 3 hours per day watching television, using computers, or playing online games. These pastimes are replacing the physically active sessions not only for children but even adults who engage in such indoor activities. Contrary to the physical activity, poor choice of food, and unhealthy eating habits, Kendall et al. (2015) denote that obesity can also be genetic cases that often turn to be very severe. Therefore, parents needs to me more careful and aware of the importance of making health food choices for their families if the tendency of becoming obese in such families seems to be genetic.
Prevalence of Obesity among Children and Adolescents
In the period between 2014 and 2015, more than one quarter of Australian children of ages between 5 and 17 were reported to be obese or overweight.
Obesity by age and gender
From the statistics covered in this paper this far, a trend can be established as to the rate of occurrence and increase in prevalence of obesity in males and females of different ages in Australia. The statistics indicates 27% of children were obese or overweight (Tomkinson & Maher, 2016). According to Demaio (2018), 20 % of children and adolescents of age bracket 5-17 were found to be overweight but not obese. 75 of children and adolescent of a similar age range were obese. The same study indicates that during the time (2014-2015), the number of boys and girls who were obese or overweight were almost at par; boys at 28% and girls at 27%. Of the children that were recorded as being obese, 7% were boys while 8% were girls.
Between the years 2011 and 2012 the incidences of overweight and obesity for males above the age of 18 was significantly more that the incidence in females. These were the cases for all age groups except for those individuals between ages of 18 to 24 and those above 75 years. The following table summarizes the differences in prevalence of obesity by age and gender as at 2015. Table adapted from Opie et al. (2017).
Trends in prevalence of obesity in children (ages 5-17) between 1995 and 2015
According to statistics that can be accessed from this study, the prevalence of obesity among children has been on a steady incline just like it has been seen in adults. In 1995, the percentage of children (i.e. of age bracket 5-17) with obesity was 21%. As submitted by Lacy et al. (2015), between the years 2007-2008, the figures rose to 25%. From that moment the prevalence of obesity among children and young adolescents has been stable averaging 26% in 2011/2012. A slight increase was however recorded between the years 2014-2015 where the prevalence rose to 27%.
Prevalence of Obesity by Cohort of birth
A part from just the age, the study also established a pattern in the trends of obesity as observed among cohorts. The word cohort in this context is used to mean a group of children who are born at about the same time. According to Nghiem & Khanam, (2016), this trend was arrived at based on the BMIs of the children as recorded in different years. It shows that between the ages of 10-13 and 14-17 young adolescents were at greater risk of developing obesity in 2014-2015; the risk being far much higher than it was among their cohorts 20 years ago (Shaw, 2016). For children with obesity, the risk of developing obesity during age bracket 2-4 in 2014-2015 was twice as likely to develop obesity as their counterparts that were born in 1995 (Gibson et al. 2016).
From the above literature, it is clear that not little focus has been given to the effects on obesity in specific age brackets in Australia. For instance, it is only reported that low level of obesity is experienced across the world in different life stages, especially among the male as compared to the female counterparts. Studies further report that girls tend to be more concerned with their body image, hence adopt different mechanism in shaping the body weight and image by slimming while boy tend to participate in physical, activity such as attending gym to have physical fitness (Benito et al., 2012). However, little explanations are given to these variables, an aspect that remains a gap for more research. Generally, age and life stages are closely associated with body weight and obesity with younger people and old people pierced as thinner and less likely to become obese.
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Jiang, X., & Telford, R. M. (2017). Physical Education, Obesity, and Academic Achievement: A 2-Year Longitudinal Investigation of Australian Elementary School Children. American Journal of Public Health, 102(2), 368–374. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2011.300220
Kendall, B. J., Wilson, L. F., Olsen, C. M., Webb, P. M., Neale, R. E., Bain, C. J., & Whiteman, D. C. (2015). Cancers in Australia in 2010 attributable to overweight and obesity. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 39(5), 452–457. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12458
Khanam, R. (2016). Childhood obesity and the income gradient: evidence from Australia. Applied Economics, 48(50), 4813–4822. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2016.1164827
Kortt, M. A., Clarke, P. M., & Brandrup, J. D. (2016). Estimating equations to correct self-reported height and weight: implications for prevalence of overweight and obesity in Australia. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 32(6), 542–545. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1753-6405.2008.00306.x
Lacy, K. E., Nichols, M. S., de Silva, A. M., Allender, S. E., Swinburn, B. A., Leslie, E. R., … Kremer, P. J. (2015). Critical design features for establishing a childhood obesity monitoring program in Australia. Australian Journal of Primary Health, 21(4), 369–372. https://doi.org/10.1071/PY15052
Maher, C. A. (2010). Trends in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia between 1985 and 2008. International Journal of Obesity, 34(1), 57–66. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2009.211
McLean, R., & TeMorenga, L. (2015). Challenges to addressing obesity for M?ori in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 39(6), 509–512. https://doi.org/10.1111/1753-6405.12418
McLean, S., Marques, M., Dunstan, C., & Paxton, S. (2016). Trajectories of Body Dissatisfaction and Dietary Restriction in Early Adolescent Girls: A Latent Class Growth Analysis. Journal of Youth & Adolescence, 45(8), 1664–1677. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0356-3
Menigoz, K., Nathan, A., & Turrell, G. (2016). Ethnic differences in overweight and obesity and the influence of acculturation on immigrant bodyweight: evidence from a national sample of Australian adults. BMC Public Health, 16(1), 1–13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-016-3608-6
Nghiem, S., & Khanam, R. (2016). Childhood obesity and the income gradient: evidence from Australia. Applied Economics, 48(50), 4813–4822. https://doi.org/10.1080/00036846.2016.1164827
Olds, T. S., Tomkinson, G. R., Ferrar, K. E., & Maher, C. A. (2010). Trends in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia between 1985 and 2008. International Journal of Obesity, 34(1), 57–66. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2009.211
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TeMorenga, Glenister, K., & Pierce, D. (2017). Why Australia needs to define obesity as a chronic condition. BMC Public Health, 17, 1–4.
Tomkinson, H. & Maher, C. A. (2010). Trends in the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in Australia between 1985 and 2008. International Journal of Obesity, 34(1), 57–66. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2009.211
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Zapico, A. G., Benito, P. J., González-Gross, M., Peinado, A. B., Calderón, F. J. (2012). Nutrition and physical activity programs for obesity treatment (PRONAF study): methodological approach of the project. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-12-1100