Keeping an eye on obesity

How much do we really know about the association between obesity and eye health? As obesity reaches pandemic levels, Kathy Oxtoby reviews the evidence.

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The implications of rising obesity on the nation’s health may have an impact on eye health. And with an NHS survey estimating that just over a quarter (28%) of children aged two to 15 in England were overweight or obese (BMI ≥ 30) in 2016 (Full Fact, 2018), the children of today – and the adults they will become – are particularly vulnerable. 

In the UK, diets are becoming worse too, sedentary lifestyles more prevalent, while obesity remains stubbornly high – more than a quarter of adults are officially classified as obese (NHS Digital, 2018) – and diabetes is on the rise, up 60% in the last decade (Diabetes UK, 2015). Just last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the UK was the third-fattest nation in Europe. The study of 53 countries in WHO’s European region found Britain rising up the obesity league tables (WHO, 2018).

So, how is obesity affecting eye health, what conditions should optometrists look out for in obese patients, and what conditions are they more likely to have? 

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