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.

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.

Last Reviewed:
September 14, 2016
Last Updated:
August 10, 2017