What is Obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which an individual’s body fat content is high enough that it could become hazardous to their health. Body fat levels are determined by a body mass index (BMI) number, which is calculated by comparing height to weight. The average normal BMI falls in the range of 18.5 to 24.9. Those with a number between 25 and 29.9 are considered overweight, while a BMI of 30 and above is obese. When that number hits 40, extreme obesity becomes a concern.

Humans gain weight when they take in more calories than they burn off. Over time, this can lead to obesity. Contributing factors could be anything from simply eating too much to an underlying medical condition. Anyone who suspects they are obese can use an online BMI calculator to get an idea of their body mass index. However, these should only be used as a starting point. Patients need to consult with their doctor to pinpoint the causes and figure out a treatment plan.

What are the Symptoms of Obesity?

The main symptom of obesity is excessive body fat, which can become a contributing factor to other serious conditions such as stroke, high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, sleep apnea, and type 2 diabetes. Additionally, some may experience pain in the back or joints, fatigue, breathlessness, snoring, or binge eating.

Obesity Causes

Obesity is a lifestyle disorder that is largely caused by accumulating excess body fat. If you take in large amounts of energy from your meals without burning it off through exercise or physical activity, the excess energy will be converted to fat and stored in the body. As such, lifestyle choice is the major cause of obesity.

Obesity develops over time as a result of poor diet and lifestyle choices. Continued consumption of processed foods or foods high in fat content, excessive consumption of alcohol, comfort eating, and binge eating are some of the unhealthy lifestyle decisions that can trigger obesity.

Other common causes of obesity include inadequate exercise and physical activity as well as genetic conditions such as Prader-Willi Syndrome. However, in some cases, instances where obesity ‘runs in the family’ can actually be tracked down to environmental factors such as poor dietary habits learned during childhood.

How is Obesity Treated?

Treatment for obesity is entirely dependent on what is causing it. Solutions may include counseling, changing eating habits, and increased activity. It is generally suggested that patients first try various lifestyle changes for at least six months. Doctors can help develop a long-term plan with a reasonable goal in mind, which initially should be to improve overall health rather than reach an ideal weight. If nothing works and there is concern over a related health condition, medications and surgery might then be considered.

Obesity Prevention

According to studies, babies who breastfeed for a long time are 15% to 25% less likely to become obese as they grow older. Thus, breastfeeding plays an important role in obesity prevention.

Most people develop obesity when they do not get enough physical activity in combination with unhealthy eating habits. As such, gradually working to change the family’s eating habits as well as eating levels can go a long way in preventing obesity.

Reduce TV and computer time and encourage your kids to spend more time playing football or their favorite physical activity. While at work, use the stairs rather than the elevator. When at home, find a physical activity that the whole family enjoys doing. This can be cycling, swimming or going the local gym.

Other measures you can consider to prevent obesity include eating only when hungry, giving up high-fat foods like whole milk, incorporating fruits and vegetables into your meals and taking wholegrain foods like brown rice. Generally, most activities that are geared towards weight loss will help prevent obesity. Healthy eating and increased physical activity play important roles in preventing obesity.