Obesity definition and facts

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and increased health problems.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Obesity Lose Weight Win Money BannerThe BMI is one way to determine whether or not an adult is overweight. BMI assesses height and weight; muscle mass is not a part of the equation.

BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight (in kilograms) by his or her height (in meters, squared). BMI can also be calculated by multiplying weight (in pounds) by 705, then dividing by height (in inches) twice.

  • BMI below 18.5: a score this low means that you may be underweight.
  • BMI between 18.5-24.9: this is a healthy range. It shows that you’re a healthy weight for your height.
  • BMI score of 25 or more: your BMI is above the ideal range and this score means you may be overweight. This means that you’re heavier than is healthy for someone of your height.
  • BMI of 30 or more: a BMI above 30 is classified as obese. Being obese puts you at a raised risk of health problems such as heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

BMI is differently calculated for children: When interpreting BMI for a child, health professionals look at a child’s weight in relation to their height, age and sex. The result is called the child’s BMI centile.
Once your child’s BMI centile has been calculated, they will be in one of four categories:

  • Underweight: below 2nd BMI centile
  • Healthy weight: between the 2nd and 90th BMI centile
  • Overweight: between 91st and to 97th BMI centile
  • Obese: at or above 98th BMI centile.

Obesity Effects

  • Heart Diseases - CHD is a disease in which a waxy substance called plaque builds up inside the coronary arteries. These arteries supply oxygen-rich blood to your heart muscle. When plaque builds up in the arteries, the condition is called atherosclerosis. The buildup of plaque occurs over many years.
  • Diabetes - Diabetes is a problem with your body that causes blood glucose (sugar) levels to rise higher than normal. This is also called hyperglycemia.
  • Cancers - Obese people are at higher risk for all cancers. They are often diagnosed in later stages of cancer than thinner people and are more likely to die from the disease. Some emerging data looking at weight-loss-surgery patients suggests that some of this risk can be diminished by losing weight.
  • Hypertension (High blood pressure) - Additional fat tissue in the body needs oxygen and nutrients in order to live, which requires the blood vessels to circulate more blood to the fat tissue. This increases the workload of the heart because it must pump more blood through additional blood vessels.
  • Dyslipidemia – high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides
  • Strokes - referred to also as a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), is the rapid loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain.
  • Sleep and breathing problems - Poor sleep contributes to a host of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and obesity itself. Those who sleep less than five hours a night were 15 percent more likely to gain weight than those who enjoyed at least seven hours of sleep.
  • Osteoarthritis – a breakdown of cartilage and bone within a joint
  • Gynecological problems (abnormal periods, infertility) - Obesity is an inflammatory state and that alone might decrease fertility, but it may also be the result of hormone changes produced by the fatty tissue.

What Causes Obesity?

  • Diet - Fad diets come and go. Some, like low carb and high protein and fat diets, may work in the short term, but they can also pose serious health risks in the long run. Ultimately, the most successful long-term weight loss programs rely more on limiting how many calories you consume, and how many you burn through exercise and daily activity, rather than the actual composition of the diet.
  • Lifestyle – For obese, exercise is beneficial because it helps you keep and add lean muscle tissue while losing fat. And because muscle tissue has a higher metabolic rate and burns calories faster, if you’re also eating healthy food according to your meal plan, exercise will speed up the rate at which you lose weight.Exercise lowers blood pressure and can help prevent Type 2 diabetes. It also helps to improve emotional well-being, reduce appetite, help you sleep better, improve flexibility and lower bad cholesterol.
  • GeneticsLike many other medical conditions, obesity is the result of an interplay between genetic and environmental factors. Inheritance patterns studies have found that 80% of the offspring of two obese parents were also obese. (in contrast to less than 10% of the offspring of two parents who were of normal weight)
  • Illnesses - Some physical and mental illnesses and the pharmaceutical substances used to treat them can increase risk of obesity. Medical illnesses that increase obesity risk include several rare genetic syndromes as well as some conditions such as: hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, growth hormone deficiency, the eating disorders: Binge eating disorder and Night eating syndrome.

Fun Fact: Survival paradox

Although the negative health consequences of obesity in the general population are well supported by the available evidence, health outcomes in certain subgroups seem to be improved at an increased BMI, a phenomenon known as the obesity survival paradox.

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