According to the WHO, 39% of the world’s population is overweight, and 13% obese. This amounts to more than 700 million people, and the percentage has tripled since 1975. Every year, 2.8 million people die from being obese or overweight. In Spain, 22% of adults are obese. Obesity is a chronic disease, characterised by an excessive accumulation of body fat. It is a public health problem linked to coronary diseases, diabetes and hypertension, among other illnesses.
Campaigns to promote physical exercise and healthy eating, which gain importance with every day that passes, are the main pillars of the fight against this pandemic. But what is obesity? Is it one illness or a set of illnesses? Are the causes of obesity environmental or genetic, or both? Does it originate in the brain? How does the body know what calories it should consume and burn? How does our brain communicate with our intestines, and vice versa? What are the mechanisms that deregulate the function of the hypothalamus in controlling appetite and body weight? What studies are currently under way to reverse this pandemic? Will we be able to “cure” obesity in the future?
Miguel López, NeurObesity Group, CiMUS, University of Santiago de Compostela.
Sonia Fernández Veledo, Pere Virgili Institute of Health Research (IISPV), Joan XXIII University Hospital of Tarragona, CIBERDEM.
Cristina Sáez, journalist specialised in science, health, environment and digital culture.