E.K., a 38-year-old from the municipality of Lipjan, says that being overweight not only caused people to bully her, it also caused her health problems.

I am approximately 86 kilos, which is a lot for someone my height. I can say that society has called me names that made me feel offended for my weight, but on the other side it is something that I have done to myself by not being careful of the food I eat. This has made me have health issues several times,” says E.K.

The results of systematic medical visits in elementary, middle and high schools in the municipality of Prishtina during 2016, show that 22.3% of the children are obese, in other words, one in five children is obese.

Mirlinda Bejta, obesity consultant and clinical nutritionist for children and adults, says that obesity can cause a specter of serious illnesses like: high blood pressure, high level of cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin resistance, coronary heart diseases, ischemic attack, diabetes, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and some types of breast, colon, prostate and endometrial cancer.

“Mortality rate increase with excessive weight gain and obesity causes more deaths than malnutrition worldwide. Among others, obesity carries other consequences, such as psychological problems and a poorer life quality,” she says.

Arianit Gashi, manager and personal trainer at “Art” gym in Lipjan, says that the human body has changed from the ancient times due to the change in food choices. However, in ancient times, humans were very connected with nature and sufficient physical activities.

“With the growth of living standard and with the development of capitalism, people started to get passive, working long hours in the office, without physical activities and getting around with cars. Another thing that causes obesity is eating a lot of caloric food like fast food and drinking sodas,” says Gashi.

Valmir Xhemshiti, student at the University of Prishtina, says that he eats fast food at least three times during the week although he knows that this kind of food is not healthy.

“I eat fast food at least three times a week and without a schedule, my dynamic life and lack of time create these eating habits. I am aware of the negative effects it has on my health so I try not to leave physical activity aside even though I use public transportation and rarely walk,” says Xhemshiti.

According to Bejta, obese adults and children are often stigmatized by society and go through “fat shaming,” which is discrimination in society and the workplace that can later contribute to mental illnesses like depression, eating disorders, panic attacks and others.

“Obesity has had an effect on my lifestyle as well, they way I dress, the way I act. Unfortunately, in Lipjan I don’t have many clothing choices so I have to go to Prishtina, but even there, there aren’t  many shops where I can customize my clothes, so I always have to go to a tailor,” says E.K.

Bejta says that obesity has a lot of complex causes.

“According to statistics, some of the reasons for the rapid growth of obesity are globalization, better economic standards and rapid urbanization that contribute to eating habits, physical activity and lifestyle,” she says.

Body Mass Index (BMI) measures body height and weight, and is the most accepted form of measuring and classifying obesity. An individual is considered obese when their weight surpasses 20% of normal weight. BMI classifies obesity in varying degrees. The higher the degree of obesity, the higher the risk of diseases caused by obesity.

“Obesity treatment should include psychological treatment by qualified experts of this field. They should especially work with stigmatization, specifically children that are bullied at school because of their weight. This could be achieved through educational programs created for parents, pupils and school staff,” adds Bejta.

Obesity is a growing trend all around the world. According to the UN, this rapid growth is alarming and it has more than doubled between 1980 and 2014. In 2014, 39% of the total population 18 years of age and over, of which 38% were men and 40% were women, were considered obese. Childhood obesity has increased for both girls and boys; from 4.2% in 1990 it has reached 6.7% in 2010. Countries with a lower economic status are more affected by childhood and adult obesity than more developed countries.

In 2008, over 1.4 billion individuals were overweight. According to the World Health Organization, 300,000 individuals die every year because of obesity. The majority of these individuals weren’t smokers or diagnosed with an illness.

Fatbardha Terpeza