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How is Obesity Defined?

Medikoe Health Expert

Medikoe Health Expert

  Koramangala, bengaluru, karnataka, india, Bengaluru     Feb 9, 2017

   5 min     


Obesity means having excess body fat. Obesity is difficult to treat and has a high relapse rate. Most people who lose weight regain the weight within five years. The obesity definition varies depending on what one reads. In general, overweight and obesity indicate a weight greater than what is healthy. Obesity is a chronic condition defined by an excess amount of body fat. The pervasiveness of childhood obesity has increased dramatically during the past decades all over the world. The majority of obesity in adulthood has its emergence in childhood which makes obesity a paediatric concern. Studies of obese adolescents have demonstrated obsession with being overweight, passivity, and withdrawal from social contact. Clinical studies generally suggest that obese persons seeking weight loss treatment have elevated rates of mood and binge eating disorders (BED). Obesity in India has reached epidemic proportions in the 21st century, with morbidobesity affecting 5% of the country's population

Body mass index (BMI) is a widely used method to define the relationship between weight and height. Adult individuals with a BMI above 27 have a markedly increased risk for hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and diabetes mellitus. A child with a high BMI has a high risk of being overweight or obese at 35 years of life and this risk increases with age. 

The consequences of this, disease starting in childhood may be more severe as the duration of obesity will be longer. It may therefore have a greater inimical impact on health and the rate of morbidity and mortality, than obesity starting in adulthood. Hyperinsulinemia is widespread in obesity and is strongly linked with cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus, hyperlipidemia, and hypertension. 

Causes of obesity

The balance between calorie intake and energy expenditure determines a person's weight. If a person eats more calories than he or she burns (metabolizes), the person gains weight (the body will store the excess energy as fat). If a person eats fewer calories than he or she metabolizes, he or she will lose weight. Therefore, the most common causes of obesity are overeating and physical inactivity. Some others are:

  1. Gallstones may also result while the obese person is on a hypocaloric diet. This may be due to mobilization of adipose tissue during weight loss. The risk of colorectal cancer and gout was increased among women who had been obese in adolescence.

  2. In children, a significant association between excess weight and asthma incidence has been observed. Population surveys do suggest that persons with asthma are disproportionately obese compared with persons who have never had asthma.

  3.  Impaired glucose tolerance is highly widespread among obese children and is associated with insulin resistance. Those with insulin resistance often developed type 2 diabetes mellitus over a two year of follow up..

  4. Orthopedic disorders such as Blount’s disease (tibia vara) and slipped capital femoral epiphysis are frequently seen in obese adolescents. There has been increasing evidence that maternal obesity is associated with an increased risk of congenital malformations, particularly neural tube defects.

  5. The underlying causes of obesity hypoventilation syndrome are multifactorial. Ultimately it occurs when there is an inadequate exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This may be due in part to the physical limitations imposed on the lungs by obesity.

Obesity symptoms

Being a little overweight may not cause many noticeable problems. However, once you are carrying a few extra kilograms, you may develop symptoms that affect your daily life. Obesity is diagnosed when your body mass index (BMI) is 30 or higher. Your body mass index is calculated by dividing your weight in kilograms (kg) by your height in meters (m) squared.

Obesity treatment

The appropriate health promoting activities include exercising; and eating healthy foods, limiting the amount of food eaten; and avoiding sweets. However, prevention is critical, since effective treatment of this disease is limited. Early recognition of excessive weight gain in relation to linear growth is important and should be closely monitored by pediatricians and health care providers. Food management and increased physical activity must be encouraged, promoted, and prioritized to protect children. Dietary practices must foster moderation and variety, with a goal of setting the appropriate eating habits for life. Advocacy is needed to elicit insurance coverage of the disease.

The most important part of any obesity treatment program is goal setting. While you may want to lose weight for societal or fashion reasons, it may be more important to consider that losing as little as 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight will have a significant positive effect on your health. Some of the factors are:

  1. Diet

  2. Exercise

  3. Environmental changes

  4. Non-surgical treatment

  5. Surgical treatment

Obesity prevention

Obesity is a chronic disease affecting more and more children, adolescents and adults:

  • Obesity rates among children in the U.S. have doubled since 1980 and have tripled for adolescents

  • 15% percent of children aged six to 19 are considered overweight

  • Over 60 percent of adults are considered overweight or obese

Healthcare professionals are seeing earlier onset of Type 2 diabetes (normally an adult-onset disease), cardiovascular disease and obesity-related depression in children and adolescents. The longer a person is obese, the more significant obesity-related risk factors become. Given the chronic diseases and conditions associated with obesity, and the fact that obesity is difficult to treat, prevention of obesity is extremely important.

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