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The Silent Storm: Prevalence of Obesity in Pakistan

Obesity is a medical condition that is widespread in developed nations like the United States, with its fast-food culture and hyper-consumerist market. It is now slowly becoming a part of the Pakistani lifestyle as well. A medical condition that is now becoming a health concern for many developing nations, including Pakistan where a recent report by the World Health Organization shows that about 58.1% of Pakistanis are overweight, while 43.9% are obese. Since the early 2000s, the trend of urbanization, fast food culture from the West, and traditional Pakistani cuisine known for having high calories has led to many citizens of the country being associated with an unhealthy diet and a lack of physical activities. Such factors are contributing to the rising trend of obesity, which is now becoming a major health problem for the people of Pakistan. Obesity can lead to various chronic diseases, such as heart-related complications, including heart attack, type 2 diabetes, and certain variants of cancer.

The changing lifestyle of the Pakistani people, especially when they transition from one social class to another, the upward mobility of the early 2000s, and the pre-COVID timeline of the 2010s led to various changes in the social lifestyle of many Pakistani people. Such a change in lifestyle and the general lack of public awareness related to the risks of obesity are also contributing factors to the rising trend. If authorities do not address this silent epidemic in the near future, it will most likely generate another national challenge, adding to the already existing issues of climate change, energy crises, water scarcity, and so on. The current technological developments, including their widespread accessibility to the younger generation, excessive screen time and most of the social activities revolving around technology can lead to less physical activity. A factor that also plays a critical role in the rising cases of obesity among children.

Obesity is a silent storm likely to wreak havoc on our social lifestyle in the near future if appropriate actions are not taken by national institutions and the public. A collaborative effort is necessary between the state health departments and the public to address this concerning development. The prevalence of obesity in Pakistan requires a unified front in addressing this silent epidemic. Strategic initiatives must be taken by both government and private institutions to create comprehensive policies for addressing the issue at hand. Initiatives such as focusing on raising awareness, promoting healthy lifestyles, and providing basic educational information related to nutrition should be introduced at the school level. Work should be done on introducing extensive government and privately sponsored programs focusing on studying the developments in the public diet and formulating national policies according to the findings of the studies. Also, promoting physical activities by encouraging the public to participate in sports activities and providing accessible spaces for various other healthy physical activities can be pivotal in reversing this alarming trend. The government should work on developing a national policy focusing on addressing this epidemic by working extensively on various already existing national health programs and news programs focusing on raising public awareness of the risks of obesity.

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