Fat men

Close up of three obese fat men on the beach

How To Live A Hundred Years Or More

 

A recent article in the Adelaide Advertiser noted that there were over 2,700 people in Australia one hundred years or older. The article also suggested that by the year 2055 this number will swell to 78,000!

 

Obviously we are doing things differently today than say, fifty years ago.

However, even though these figures are heartening,  to be sensible, the figures need to be compared to the millions who die prematurely due to preventable causes.

 The most common of these would be smoking, drugs and obesity. And perhaps the worst would be obesity because it affects young and old and all areas of society.

In fact the BBC News reported that “the World Health Organization predicts there will be 2.3 billion overweight adults in the world by 2015 and more than 700 million of them will be obese.”

That’s one third of the earth’s population!

More than likely not many of these will be amongst the 78,000.

 With obesity comes diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart and circulatory conditions, and arthritis, to name a few. In fact an article in the Adelaide Advertiser for Tuesday 19th.August suggested that research is also “showing that obesity can be attributed to 39 per cent of cancers of the uterus, 37 per cent of cancers of the oesophagus, 25 per cent of kidney cancers, 11 per cent of colorectal cancers and 9 per cent of post-menopausal cancer.”

The Wellness International Network gives a startling glimpse of the problem with the following list of the figures for the USA. Pro-rata, they would be equivalent for Australia.

  • 58 Million Overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 Million morbidly Obese
  • Eight out of 10 over 25’s Overweight
  • 78% of American’s not meeting basic activity level recommendations
  • 25% completely Sedentary
  • 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990
  • 80% of type II diabetes related to obesity
  • 70% of Cardiovascular disease related to obesity
  • 42% breast and colon cancer diagnosed among obese individuals
  • 30% of gall bladder surgery related to obesity
  • 26% of obese people having high blood pressure

Childhood Obesity Running Out of Control

  • 4% overweight 1982 | 16% overweight 1994
  • 25% of all white children overweight 2001
  • 33% African American and Hispanic children overweight 2001
  • Hospital costs associated with childhood obesity rising from $35 Million (1979) to $127 Million (1999)
  • New study suggests one in four overweight children is already showing early signs of type II diabetes (impaired glucose intolerance)
  • 60% already have one risk factor for heart disease

Surge in Childhood Diabetes

  • Between 8% – 45% of newly diagnosed cases of childhood diabetes are type II, associated with obesity.
  • Whereas 4% of Childhood diabetes was type II in 1990, that number has risen to approximately 20%
  • Depending on the age group (Type II most frequent 10-19 group) and the racial/ethnic mix of group stated
  • Of Children diagnosed with Type II diabetes, 85% are obese

 

Again, what does childhood obesity say for the chance of being amongst 78,000 centenarians in 2055? Unfortunately they will be the few survivors because millions die prematurely.

Sadly, obesity is having an impact on all facets of society.

Seating manufacturers, theatres and airline companies (not to mention clothing manufacturers) are discovering that the average person is becoming wider. Who hasn’t had to accommodate the overflow of an obese fellow passenger sitting alongside on an aeroplane, forcing you to eat like a praying mantis?

But probably not so well known or appreciated is the effect that obesity has on the human spine and other skeletal joints. The increased weight causes the spine to assume abnormal and extreme curves, compromising spinal discs and facet joints. As the accompanying diagram illustrates, obesity causes a forward motion of the centre of gravity. This affects the neck causing the head to tilt forward and upward, often straining neck muscles. The same goes for the lower back due to the corresponding backward movement of the body.

Obesity and low back stress

Obesity and other stresses cause spinal damage

 

Now that we have been warned, what do we do about it?

  Well, it is never too late to tackle the problem. One of the first things to do is to see if or how much we are overweight and the best ways to do this is to calculate your Body Mass (weight)  which takes into consideration your height. The Herbalife Company supplies an easy to use and understandable calculator on their website: www.feelterrific.com.au/BMI.htm or you can purchase calipers from chemists, some sports stores, to measure body fat.

It’s not hard.

Implement a personal health program.

Once you have determined your situation you need to implement a health program including exercise and nutrition.

Stop smoking


Smoking is dangerous .

Here is a list of things to do:

  1. Educate  yourself. Ignorance is bliss but it can be deadly. Read books and articles, check the internet, but only implement what appears sound and don’t get carried away with anything too esoteric.
  2. Have a medical check up with your GP and ascertain your condition (especially before commencing an exercise regime).
  3. Exercise Daily. Start with a little and build up. Walk around the back yard or down the street until you can venture further afield. If your middle aged (45+) maybe get a CT scan of the arteries in your heart to determine if there are blockages before you start running.
  4. Implement a Nutrition Program. Get help from a professional by consulting a Naturopath or a holistic Chiropractor to help your program. But commonsense alerts most of us to the right and wrong things we eat.
  5. Stop Smoking  (or taking non prescription drugs and excessive drinking). As if we didn’t know these would be on the list.

Now, before I close let me say that we all recognize that life is not fair. All of us know of instances of the few that defy the statistics and despite their lifestyles, reach old age. On the other hand, a friend of mine who was as fit as the proverbial bull died of a heart attack whilst playing squash at 56 years of age. Maybe he should have taken cognizance of the fact that both his parents also died in their fifties due to heart problems.

So what’s the point?

Just this.

We need to do our best at keeping fit but have to be comfortable with the variables of life. Accidents, natural disasters, and our genetical background all have an impact on how long we will eventually live.

Maybe you and I will be among the 78,000 – if so I will be 109!

 

Picture of the author at his desk.

Author Will Mcallister