Background – University of Copenhagen

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Background of Project FINE

Overweight and obesity - an epidemic?

The increase in the prevalence of overweight and obesity among all age groups in the Western world is so dramatic that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified it as an epidemic. Overweight is caused by a positive energy balance, which is partially due to a modern lifestyle that involves using forms of transportation that do not require physical exertion, working at sedentary jobs, and having a lack of physically active leisure pursuits in addition to regularly over-consuming food.

Overweight and lifestyle diseases

Overweight and obese individuals have a much higher risk of developing lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but the risk varies from person to person and cannot be explained only by differences in lifestyle factors. Thus, both genetic and epigenetic factors appear to regulate insulin sensitivity as well as beta cell function, and these conditions seem to determine an individual's likelihood for developing conditions later in life that are related to being overweight, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Physical activity is the key to a long and healthy life

Due to the rapidly increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity in modern society, there is now a growing focus on the fact that physical activity is a cornerstone of successful weight management. Health authorities in Denmark and a number of other countries recommend at least 30 minutes of daily physical activity, in order to prevent lifestyle diseases related to being overweight, and to add "years to life" as well as "life to years". However, at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day is recommended for overweight individuals who want to lose weight.