Obesity has reached epidemic proportions globally, with at least 2.8 million people dying each year as a result of being overweight or obese (WHO, 2017). This reality has now been accepted worldwide. Also accepted is the fact that obesity comes with much co morbidity (Jarolimova, Tagoni, & Stern, 2013; Pệrez, Sệnchez, & Ortiz, 2013). However, this cohort study on the risks of major congenital malformations in the offspring of mothers has now shown that there is another trajectory: Overweight or obese mothers’ newborns are at high risk of being incapacitated. What is interesting to note is the solution suggested “efforts should be made to encourage women of reproductive age to adopt a healthy lifestyle and to obtain a normal body weight before conception”. Although the detail of how this should be done was not mentioned, in essence this is basically saying to women, reduce weight prior to pregnancy because you may end up with deform babies. This of course should be taken seriously, as ignoring it can possible lead to serious financial, social and psychological burden for any individual or country. What is obvious though is that, if this is the only approach, we need to be gravely concern because over the years individuals almost in every household across the globe have seen the impact and effects of obesity on themselves, families, and countries yet “about half a million people in North America and Western Europe die from obesity-related diseases every year” (WHO, 2002). Knowledge alone has not made an impact. A multifaceted approach is needed.
Therefore, knowing of, or even seeing, defective babies of overweight moms may not be a strong enough motivating factor for women of childbearing age to want to reduce their weight. In addressing this issue males and females should be targeted. Humans basically operate within an interactive environment. The male partner is a strong influential force and should not be left out of taking responsibility for the health of his potential unborn child. His lifestyle could well be supporting his spouse weight gain.
A more effective approach in addressing the crisis of obesity is to begin the process of engraving upon the minds of the youth (boys and girls) the responsibilities they have to themselves and to their, families, countries, nations and the world in making healthy lifestyle choices. It must be a part of their curriculum. It must commence in the schools and continue throughout varying academic levels. Additionally, both the private and public sectors must address the workplace and school infrastructures to support a healthy lifestyle so that knowledge and practice are integrated. The World Health Organization, 2017 has stated “Governments, international partners, civil society, non-governmental organizations and the private sector all have vital roles to play in contributing to obesity prevention” To begin this journey these bodies must focus their interventions at the school levels. That is where policy makers must have their impact and recommendations must be made.
Jarolimova, J., Tagoni, J., & Stern, T. (2013).Obesity: Its epidemiology, comorbidities, and management. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3907314/
Pệrez, C., Sệnchez, H., & Ortiz, A. (2013).Prevalence of overweight and obesity and their cardiometabolic comorbidities in Hispanic adults living in Puerto Rico. . Retrieved June 20, 2017, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23846388
World Health Organization (2017). 10 Facts on obesity. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/obesity/en/ World Health Organization (2002). Enemies of health, allies of poverty. Retrieved June 19, 2017, from http://www.who.int/whr/2002/overview/en/index1.html
Competing interests: No competing interests