As the wise Hippocrates once said, food really can be our medicine. So, for our fourth blog in our Wheel of LifeTM series, we’re going to talk about nutrition.
Optimal nutrition is a crucial part of our whole lives. Starting from pregnancy, infancy, adolescence and all the way into our senior years, nutrition will play a key role in determining how well we can develop, grow, learn, perform and live healthily.
“Malnutrition, in every form, presents significant threats to human health.” –WHO
Today, the world faces a double burden of malnutrition that includes both undernutrition and an increasing overweight population. In this blog we’ll address the most pressing and preventable factors that are driving poor nutrition in the 21st century: overweight and obesity.
The Obesity And Overweight Outbreak
By now, most of us are aware that the worldwide population is rapidly growing. Not only in numbers but also on the scales.
Since 1975, worldwide obesity levels have nearly tripled.
Recent estimates by the WHO point to 39% of the worldwide adult population being overweight and 13% of adults around the globe being obese. Overweight can be defined as those who have a BMI between 25 – 29.9, while those who are classified as obese have a BMI of 30 or higher. Generally, for adults to be considered a healthy weight, they should be in the BMI range between 18.5 and 25.
The Health Risks
The shocking truth is that not watching our weight has devastating consequences.
It’s estimated that obesity and being overweight contribute to at least 1 in every 13 deaths in Europe. Whereas in the US, the approximate number of annual deaths attributable to obesity among US adults is around 300,000, being the second leading cause of preventable deaths.
In Asia, the consequences are also severe. China is seeing over 4 million productive years lost due to overweight and obesity, whereas Japan is spending over 15% of total healthcare costs to treat its overweight and obese citizens.
The higher the number on the scales, the bigger the risk. With complications from overweight and obesity being highlighted below, it really is a matter to be taken seriously:
- type 2 diabetes
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol and atherosclerosis, which can lead to coronary heart disease and stroke
- metabolic syndrome
- several types of cancer, including bowel cancer, breast cancer and womb cancer
- reduced fertility
- sleep apnoea
- liver disease and kidney disease
- and pregnancy complications, such as gestational diabetes or pre-eclampsia
Additionally, overweight or obese populations have also been linked to higher risks of complications from Covid-19.
Many experts attribute this overweight epidemic to our diets, as evidence suggests that the Western-style diet, which is high in red meat, fats, fast foods, sugars, and desserts, brings significantly higher health risks and, furthermore, that nutrition intervention can improve health outcomes.
An interesting phenomenon to appear in recent years, is the appearance of micronutrient-related malnutrition in obese or overweight populations. In the past, a lack of micronutrients went hand in hand with general undernutrition, but in the modern world we are seeing the coupling of those who are both overeating, and yet still not getting the minimum vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy.
This due to the increasing consumption of fast food and highly processed meals, which do not offer much nutritional value, according to a recent Lancet report. These types of convenient foods are making us fatter but not filling our hunger for proper sustenance, lacking essential micronutrients, minerals, fibers and vitamins.
“Obesity has been found to reduce life expectancy by an average of 3 to 10 years, depending on how severe it is.” –NHS
When it comes to assessing the risk, more than just a BMI should be taken into account.
For example, a person who is a healthy BMI but has a high waist circumference is also at higher risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke.
A Nutrition Prescription
Many health institutions state that the most effective way to attain and remain a healthy weight is through a combination of a healthy diet and exercise.
That’s why we pay close attention to the nutrition area within our Wheel of LifeTM Digital Health Engagement Platform for insurers and corporate wellness providers.
During our onboarding, the user is asked a series of expert-curated nutritional questions. In order to calculate an accurate Health Score, the user will disclose more details on their overall eating habits. Our smart digital coach will gather all nutritional data provided and suggest relevant goals to the user, from our vast range of engaging food-associated goals.
The Wheel of LifeTM’s nutrition components have been carefully designed by our team of specialists to gather a holistic view of a user’s diet, including aspects such as:
- Diet – is a specific diet is being followed?
- Mindful eating – does the user eat consciously and in a healthy manner?
- Fruit and vegetables – is the user’s intake of fruit and vegetables optimal?
- Water – opting for water instead of sugary drinks could decrease type 2 diabetes risk
- Limiting fast food – users are directed to be aware of highly processed, deep fried fast food as excessive consumption can lead to obesity and other health concerns
- Fun and engaging nutritional quizzes – to educate the users on nutrition and healthy habits
- A substantial collection of nutrition goals – to directly engage the users into improving their eating habits
Wheel of LifeTM is our most engaging and user-friendly lifestyle navigator to date. It is designed especially for Life & Health insurers or corporate wellness providers. Helping your policyholders or employees to partake in a healthier diet has never been easier!
Let’s get your digital health engagement plan in place.
Request a complimentary Wheel of LifeTM demo today.
Every week we will be releasing a dedicated article on one of the seven different categories of our Wheel of LifeTM. Come back on December 30th to read our next blog on the activity category!