3 Issues Related to Health | IYMS

3 Issues Related to Health

Image source: http://www.tobacco-news.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/smoking-cigarettes.jpg

Author: Filip Steiner

Our health is precious and something worth protecting. In this article i will talk about 3 things that are currently putting global health in danger the most. These issues are AIDS, TOBACCO and OBESITY.

AIDS has reached epidemic proportions in many developing countries and can be considered a big threat to national health or security in many developed countries such as the US.
In 2008 33.4 million people were estimated to be living with HIV, 2.7 million new people were diagnosed with HIV and 2 million people died from HIV. Approximately 7 out of 10 death from AIDS occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that also has over two-thirds of adult HIV cases and over 90% of new HIV infections amongst children.

Image source: http://cdn1.globalissues.org/i/health/2009/living-with-hiv-2008.png

While the number of those living with HIV has been increasing, a part of this is also because more successful treatment has meant more people have survived. HIV is a virus that is constantly mutating and finding new ways to adapt to numerous treatments and scientists are yet to find a cure that will get rid of HIV once and for all.

Image source: http://cdn1.globalissues.org/i/health/2009/aids-deaths-2008.png

Poverty not only creates the biological conditions for greater risk to catch infectious diseases, it also limits the options for treating the disease. For wealthier people in industrialized countries, there is a better chance to reach and afford the very expensive treatment that is available.


Tobacco is the leading cause of preventable deaths and the second major cause of death in the world. It is estimated that 1 person dies because of tobacco overuse every 6 seconds, it caused 100 million deaths in the 20th century and is estimated to cause 1 billion deaths in the 21st century if the smoking pattern continues. An estimated number of 1.5 billion people smoke today, 85% of all smokers live in developing and transitional economy countries. Most people start smoking before the age of 18 and almost a quarter of them begin using tobacco before the age of 10.

Here is what the WHO (World Health Organization) has to say about the link between tobacco and poverty: Tobacco and poverty are inextricably linked. Many studies have shown that in the poorest households in some low-income countries as much as 10% of total household expenditure is on tobacco [and therefore] less money to spend on basic items such as food, education and health care. In addition to its direct health effects, tobacco leads to malnutrition, increased health care costs and premature death. It also contributes to a higher illiteracy rate, since money that could have been used for education is spent on tobacco instead.

Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known carcinogenic compounds and 400 other toxins. These include nicotine, tar, and carbon monoxide, as well as formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT.

Nicotine is a highly addictive substance that stops smokers from quitting smoking. It is not as dangerous as a heroin addiction, but it is very dangerous in the long run.


Obesity is a growing health problem all over the world. The definition of obesity is when somebody is so overweight, that it is endangering his health. It occurs from overeating or from a bad diet and not getting enough exercise.

It is not even so surprising that so many people are becoming obese, with all the cheap and high-calorie food like fast food and junk food, all the pre-made food with high amounts of salt, sugar, fat, artificial flavoring and chemical additives it’s no wonder that obesity has spread so rapidly around the globe.

Image source: http://cornellbiochem.wikispaces.com/file/view/Obesity.jpg/126458281/Obesity.jpg

This is taken out of a 2005 British Medical Journal: New economic analyses help dispel the myth of people getting fatter but eating less. The first 20 years of our adult obesity epidemic, from the 1970s to 1990s, was explained mainly by declining physical activity: Americans believe they have less time to do things but in reality are spending more time watching television and being inactive. Subsequently, the obesity epidemic appears to have been fuelled by largely increased food consumption. A paradoxical increase and deregulation of appetite during inactivity has been matched by an increasing supply of food at lower real cost. Consumption of “supersize” food portions will accelerate this process, reflecting a failure of the free market that demands government intervention.

Did you know that there are approximately 1.1 billion underfed and 1.1 billion overweight people on the planet? 80% of all the world’s underfed children are living in countries with food surpluses. 55% of all adults in the US are overweight and 23% of all adults in US are considered obese by global standards. There are 400.000 liposuctions performed in the US annually.      50% of all food ready for harvest in the US never gets eaten, it gets thrown away to rot, creating methane (greenhouse gas). The WHO predicted that by 2015, approximately 2.3 billion adults will be overweight and more than 700 million will be obese.
Today the food market is overflowing with cheap-production, energy-dense and nutrient-empty food. Healthy food is often more expensive than the unhealthy one, leaving more people to go with the cheaper option. Also the food advertisements on TV are persuading people to buy cheap food with a lot of salt, sugar, fat and additives; a lot of these people being children, they desire this type of food at a very young age. These are all some of the causes of obesity, one of the world’s most common diseases.
In my opinion these are the 3 biggest issues in health today. Of course, just talking about them won’t make a difference, so we must take action before the circumstances get any worse. The situation is not at all sunny, but it is not too late for a change, after all,the most ironic thing about these 3 issues is that they are preventable. If we chose to act more responsibly and think about the future, maybe these issues might even eventually dissappear.


1. “Tobacco and poverty” by WHO http://www.who.int/tobacco/research/economics/rationale/poverty/en/index.html

2. “Prognosis in obesity” by professor M E J Lean