Obesity: What is obesity and Causes of Obesity

What is obesity?

Obesity refers to the excess of body fat. It is one of the leading causes of United States mortality. It affects more than one-third of the U.S. adult population. The healthcare costs of American adults related with obesity are very high.

Obesity: What is obesity and Causes of Obesity
Obesity: What is obesity and Causes of Obesity

Fat is a great source of reserve energy for the body. It also acts as an insulator. It is fat that gives the body its smooth contour and its beautiful look.

It is a condition in which a person has excess of body fat that could impair health.

It is also defined as excess adipose tissue

Causes ?

A large proportion of the world population is overweight Physical inactivity, food habits and lifestyle have been a major reason for the obesity epidemic worldwide.

Consumption of high calorific foods: A very lazy life style. Sitting for most part of day.

Mid-life weight gain; Older people are at a greater risk of weight gain compared to younger individuals; especially older women who are in their menopausal age.

Illnesses like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), Cushing’s syndrome (increase in the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol) and Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) (occurring in 5-10% of women of child-bearing age) have been linked to obesity.

Usage of Drugs like steroids, oral contraceptives, antidepressants, antiepileptics, antihypertensives and insulin is commonly followed by weight gain.

Heredity: It tends to run in families. Eighty percent of the offspring of two obese parents become obese.

Body mass index (BMI)

BMI compares your weight to your height.

BMI is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his height in meters (kg/m2).

The most widely used method of measuring and identifying obesity is BMI

BMI = weight in kg/ height m2

Reference numbers for BMI:

  • Underweight :         Below 18.5                   
  • Normal weight :  5 -24.9
  • Overweight :  0 – 29.9
  • Obese : 0 – 39.9
  • Extreme obesity :  0 and above

The other methods used for the measurement of obesity are waist circumference and waist-to-hip ratio. Men and women have different waist circumference parameters for obesity. Men with a waist measurement exceeding 40 inches are considered at risk. Women are at risk with a waist measurement of 35 inches or greater. Individuals may need to use additional factors to assess their individual risk including family history, level of physical activity, smoking and dietary habits.

  What are the Complications (Health Risks) of Obesity?

Obese people are at a high risk of developing diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, depression, diabetes, fatty liver disease, gall bladder disease and osteoarthritis.

  • Coronary Heart Disease–Here the oxygen supply for the heart decreases due to the Build up of plaque in the arteries supplying oxygen-rich blood to the heart. So the patient feels pain in the heart
  • Heart failure– Heart is unable to pump adequate blood for circulation.
  • High Blood Pressure – It makes you more likely to have high blood pressure.
  • Breathing pauses while sleeping due to excess fat around the neck (Sleep Apnea). Weight loss often improves sleep apnea.
  • Osteoarthritis – it is a joint problem of the knees, back and hips and gets aggravated by obesity. Weight loss can reduce the stress on the knees and lower back.
  • Diabetes Mellitus– people with type 2 diabetes can control the blood sugar level by controlling weight and becoming more physically active. Obese people are 40 times more likely to get Type 2 Diabetes.
  • It leads to menstrual issues and infertility in women.

Obese children are more prone to getting Type 2 diabetes and end up becoming obese adults with all of the above risks. 

How is Obesity Treated?

There are different factors which cause the obesity, however proper healthy diet and regular physical exercise can control the obesity to a large extent. The different things we can do to control obesity are 

  • Weight Reduction – set a realistic goal in consultation with your doctor and work on it. A realistic goal for adults is to reduce about 5 – 10 % of body weight over 6 months.
  • Reduce Intake of Calories–taking proper calories is an important factor to control obesity. Proposed limits are 1000 – 1200 calories for a woman and 1200 – 1600 calories for a man per day. However these values may change depending on the type physical activity you are involved in. consult your doctor to set your calorie goal per day.
  • Moderate but regular aerobic exercisessuch as walking, swimming and gardening is a key thing you should do.
  • Eating healthy – A healthy diet means a meal that is high in fiberand low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and added sugar especially high fructose corn syrup.
  • Weight-loss medicines. Be careful, It is not like the infection in your body. Weight-loss medicines have to be taken along with other methods like diet and exercise. Take these medicines after the consultation with your doctor. While taking weight-loss medications, doctor must monitor the person continuously.
  • Weight-loss surgeries: Weight loss surgery may be an option for those who find it difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise or have serious health problems related to obesity. It usually is recommended as a last option.

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