Obesity – what is it all about

Obesity is the body’s condition characterized by the accumulation of excess body fat, leading to excessive body weight and health problems. Adults aged 35 years and older with a BMI of more than 30 are considered obese. Obesity is not a cosmetic concern of the body, and it is a significant problem for a person’s general health and well-being as it increases the risks of certain diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular issues, and even malignancies. Obesity is difficult to treat, as obese persons tend to regain weight within five years after losing it. Medications and diet can help counter obesity; however, the treatment is long-term with solid commitments to dietary habits, physical exercise, and lifestyle modifications. Although obesity is a significant risk for several chronic diseases, moderate weight loss can help reduce the risks of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease.

What is the Body Mass Index (BMI)?

Body mass index (BMI) is a tool used by doctors to assess a person’s weight to his age. It best defines obesity. BMI measurements help put the individual in specific categories considering their weight, age, sex, and height. Body mass index is measured by dividing the weight (kg) of the person by the square root of height (m). There is a strong correlation between BMI with body fat, as it describes the person’s weight to his size. Adults having a body mass index between 18.4 to 24.9 are considered to have normal body weight. However, a body mass index between 25 and 29,9 is categorized as overweight. An adult having a body mass index greater than 30 is considered obese.

BMI ranges from overweight to underweight, infographic.

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Symptoms of obesity:

Obesity is the aftereffect of eating more calories than the body can consume or use consistently. The body then, at that point, stores the abundance of calories as fat. As the additional calories are burned every day, the body collects additional fat stores, prompting stoutness and—in the most extreme examples—too grim heftiness. Obesity side effects have been a forerunner to numerous genuine and now and then lethal issues.

  • SYMPTOMS IN ADULTS: Obesity negatively impacts the quality of life. Some of the frequent symptoms of obesity in adults may include accumulation of excess body fat, shortness of breath, sweating, snoring (leading to sleep apnea), difficulty sleeping, fatigue, inability to perform simple tasks, backache, joint pain, and psychological issues such as low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety.
  • SYMPTOMS FOR CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS:  Common symptoms of childhood obesity may include eating disorders, fatty tissues deposit along with the formation of stretch marks on the skin, shortness of breath with mild physical activity, sleeping disorders, GI problems such as constipation, poor self-esteem, and orthopedic problems.
  • MORBID OBESITY SYMPTOMS: Individuals are considered to have morbid obesity if their weight exceeds 80 to 100 pounds (ca. 45 kg) above their ideal body weight. Morbid obesity may lead to serious health problems. Some health problems experienced by these individuals may include high blood pressure, diabetes, difficulty walking, and shortness of breath on performing simple physical tasks.

Most common causes of obesity:

The harmony between calorie consumption and energy expenditure decides an individual’s weight. A person gains weight when he consumes more calories than he burns. Therefore, eating more calories and physical inactivity are the most common causes of obesity. Eventually, body weight is the aftereffect of hereditary qualities, digestion, climate, conduct, and culture. Some common causes of obesity may include:

  • PHYSICAL INACTIVITY: Sedentary lifestyle is one of the most common causes of obesity. An individual with a sedentary lifestyle burns fewer calories than he consumes, so the excess then accumulates in the body in the form of fat, leading to overweight and obesity. Moderate physical exercise daily like walking, running, and swimming for at least half an hour.
  • OVEREATING: Overeating may lead to obesity, especially if the diet constitutes high in fats and refined carbohydrates. Overeating leads to weight gain and obesity.
  • GENETICS: Genetics has a strong role in obesity. A person is more likely to get obese if his parents are obese. Hereditary deficiency of leptin hormone is considered to involve in the development of genetically related obesity. Leptin signals the brain to stop eating desire when body fat stores are high. So, leptin prevents overeating and provides satiety. Genetic deficiency of leptin leads to obesity.
  • MEDICATIONS: Certain medications are involved in increasing weight. These may include antidepressants, antipsychotics, oral contraceptives, corticosteroids such as prednisolone, medications for diabetes, insulin, and some antihypertensive drugs involved in gaining weight.
  • PSYCHOLOGICAL FACTORS: Physiological factors may be responsible for obesity in some persons. These individuals have a psychological desire to overeat. Emotional factors, stress, anger, and boredom may lead to overeating in some individuals, which causes weight gain.
  • DISEASES: Some health problems may lead to increased weight. These may include diabetes, insulin resistance, hypothyroidism, Cushing syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Health risks associated with obesity:

Obesity is a major problem for a person’s general health and well-being as it increases the risks of certain diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular problems, and even malignancies. Individuals with a BMI greater than 40 are more prone to the health problems caused by obesity, which may include:

  • Insulin resistance and type-2 Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiovascular disorders such as Heart attack
  • Hypercholesterolemia and coronary artery disorders
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis and bone problems
  • Gallstone
  • Gout and gouty arthritis
  • Sleeping disorders and Sleep apnea
  • Stroke

How to prevent obesity?

Although obesity is a major risk for several chronic diseases, moderate weight loss can help reduce the risks of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and coronary artery disease. Obesity can be prevented on a personal level by the following lifestyle modifications:

  • Moderate physical exercise daily like walking, running, and swimming for at least half an hour
  • Eat well nutritious foods, and avoid a high-fat, high-calorie diet
  • Avoid overeating

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