Don’t ignore the sound of snoring – it’s the fire alarm for your health.

Snoring is now at world epidemic levels, with about 4 in 10 men and 3 in 10 women being affected and it’s often related to obesity and weight gain. It’s a true worldwide problem and affects all the major nations. When your throat narrows due to weight gain, then airflow is restricted and you snore.

Fitness Instructor Addressing Overweight People At Diet Club

Untreated snoring can lead to many serious health problems, such as diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, depression, chronic fatigue, cancer, earlier onset of memory loss, and major liver damage. The worse cases of snoring develop into obstructive sleep apnoea, (OSA) and as an example of this, 34% of men and 17% of women in the USA alone suffer from obstructive sleep apnea in all its possible degrees of severity.

Not only that, but the United States is home to the highest proportion of the world’s obese people, at 13 per cent. Similar weight-related problem exists worldwide. Numerically, more than 50 per cent of the world’s 671 million obese people live in 10 countries: the United States, China, India, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Egypt, Germany, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Even in countries such as Australia which projects an image of being a health-conscious, fitness-oriented, sports loving nation – the problem exists. But experts say that Australia’s unprecedented affluence along with a culture of convenience foods, growing portion sizes and an increasingly sedentary life-style have made one in two Australians overweight and turned the country into one of the fattest in the world.

Worse still, while studies show that obesity rates in other developed countries like the US have begun to level off, those of Australia are still rising. Last year, it climbed to 4th in the ranking of advanced nations with the largest proportion of obese citizens at 28.3%, behind the USA, Mexico and New Zealand.

A spokesperson for the Australian Department of Health, says the government has already committed A$932m to initiatives and media campaigns targeting health education and promoting healthy choices. The government has also updated physical activity and dietary guidelines. Initiatives are also taking place at state level, like in New South Wales – where officials say obesity costs the state approximately A$20bn every year. With nearly 11 million overweight Australians and obesity-related diseases on the rise, perhaps even more serious measures are needed before it gets worse.

Exactly the same problems exist in the UK and press focus this week has been very much on the subject – particularly amongst children of all ages, and the amount of their sugar intake from soft drinks and other products.

University College London researchers looked at data from more than 56,000 people born in Britain since the end of WW2 and found a clear shift over time, with obesity becoming more common and starting earlier in life. Obese children often go on to be obese adults, carrying with them an increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The first, post-War male babies did not become overweight until they hit the age of 40, on average, the report said – but the next two generations of men got fatter younger, at a median age of 33 and 30, respectively.

The trend was the same for women. By the third generation babies born in the 1970s, the median age for becoming overweight was 41, compared with 48 for those born in 1946 and 44 for those born in 1958.

By the fourth generation, obesity was becoming common in childhood.
Children born since the 1980s were up to three times more likely than older generations to be overweight or obese by the age of 10, and latest figures for England suggest a fifth of children joining primary school are now obese or overweight at age 5.

A spokesman for Public Health England, said: “Evidence shows children of obese parents are much more likely to have weight problems, which is a major concern when almost two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

“Almost one in 10 children aged 5 are obese – but what’s worse is that by the time they reach 11, this doubles to nearly one in five.” “Obese children are more likely to experience bullying, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and have a higher risk of developing diabetes and heart disease.” Teenagers are not easily directed and it was clear that the 11- to 15-year-olds were the most vulnerable and difficult group.

The UK government has already launched a number of initiatives to help people eat more healthily and be more active, and others are planned, as it is already costing the NHS £billions per year.

John Redfern