Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to an extent that it may have a negative effect on health. A doctor will usually suggest that a person has obesity if they have a high body mass index.
A BMI (Body Mass Index) between 25 and 29.9 indicates that a person is carrying excess weight. A BMI of 30 or over suggests that a person may have obesity.
Obesity is a biological, preventable and treatable disease. Obesity is not a condition, a character flaw, a consequence of poor will power, or anyone’s fault. Contributing factors to obesity include heredity and one’s environment.
Difference between being overweight and being obese
Being overweight or obese are both terms for having more body fat than what is considered healthy. Both are used to identify people who are at risk for health problems from having too much body fat. However, the term “obese” generally means a much higher amount of body fat than “overweight.” However, overweight may also be due to extra muscle, bone, or water.
What causes obesity?
Although there are genetic, behavioral, metabolic and hormonal influences on body weight, obesity occurs when you take in more calories than you burn through exercise and normal daily activities. Your body stores these excess calories as fat.
Lack of exercise and physical activity is another important factor related to obesity. Our modern lifestyles are causing more people to be obese. Changing work patterns, using technology all contribute to making us gain weight.
The genes you inherit from your parents may affect the amount of body fat you store, and where that fat is distributed. Genetics may also play a role in how efficiently your body converts food into energy, how your body regulates your appetite and how your body burns calories during exercise.
Obesity tends to run in families. That’s not just because of the genes they share. Family members also tend to share similar eating and activity habits.
Consequences of Obesity
People with obesity are more likely to develop a number of potentially serious health problems, including:
- Heart disease and strokes. Obesity makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, which are risk factors for heart disease and strokes.
- Certain cancers. Obesity may increase your risk of cancer of the uterus, cervix, endometrium, ovary, breast, colon, rectum, esophagus, liver, gallbladder, pancreas, kidney and prostate.
- Digestive problems. Obesity increases the likelihood that you’ll develop heartburn, gallbladder disease and liver problems.
- Type 2 diabetes. Obesity can affect the way your body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels. This raises your risk of insulin resistance and diabetes.
Obesity can diminish your overall quality of life. People with obesity may even encounter discrimination.Other weight-related issues that may affect your quality of life include: depression, disability, sexual problems, social isolation, etc
How to Prevent Obesity?
- Help prevent weight gain by making good lifestyle choices. Aim for moderate exercise (walking, swimming, biking) for 20 to 30 minutes every day.
- Eat well by choosing nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Eat high-fat, high-calorie foods in moderation.
- Know and avoid the food traps that cause you to eat. Identify situations that trigger out-of-control eating. You can plan ahead and develop strategies for handling these types of situations and stay in control of your eating behaviors.
- Monitor your weight regularly. Monitoring your weight can tell you whether your efforts are working and can help you detect small weight gains before they become big problems.
- Medications, in addition to improving lifestyle, are indicated for a BMI of 27 or more, with two or more complications from obesity. Medications are also indicated if your BMI is 30 or more, regardless of whether complications are present or not.
Recent studies have reported that globally, more than 1.9 billion adults are overweight and 650 million are obese. Approximately 2.8 million deaths are reported as a result of being overweight or obese. In India, more than 135 million individuals were affected by obesity. The prevalence of obesity in India varies due to age, gender, geographical environment, socio-economic status, etc.
Obesity is one of the main medical and financial burdens for the government. This problem of obesity can be preventable by spreading public awareness about obesity and its health consequences. Governmental agencies should promote the benefits of healthy life style, food habits and physical activity.