Obesity Facts

THE WHAT AND HOW

Obesity Facts

WHAT IS OBESITY?

Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health. It is a lifelong progressive, life threatening disease which can significantly reduce life expectancy. When weight reaches extreme levels, it is called MORBID OBESITY which is prone to develop numerous medical, psychological and social consequences. It can be defined based on the Body Mass Index into various categories as shown below. BMI = wt(kg) / [ht(m²)]

BMI is a useful general guideline and is a good estimator of body fat for most adults between 19 and 70 years of age, however, it may not be an accurate measurement of body fat for body builders, certain athletes, and pregnant women.

  • Healthy weight is defined as BMI equal to or greater than 19 and less than 25
  • BMI greater than or equal to 25 is overweight
  • BMI greater than or equal to 30 is obesity
  • BMI greater than or equal to 35 or 40 is severe obesity
  • BMI of greater than or equal to 35 or 40 - 44.9 or 49.9 is morbid obesity
  • BMI of greater than or equal to 45 or 50 is super obesity

Obesity is also defined by waist size - over 90 cm in males and over 80 cm in females. With every single increase in BMI, the chances of developing diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension increases.

CAUSES OF OBESITY

Unlike most disease, Obesity doesn't have a single cause; there are several. Recent research suggests that the rise in obesity is primarily due to altered, sedentary lifestyles, high calorie diets and reduced physical activity secondary to globalisation, some of the most common causes of obesity are as follows:

HEREDITY

It has been scientifically shown that heredity influences the distribution of fat tissue. Moreover, weight regulation in the human body depends upon various genetically determined factors such as hormones. Any abnormality in these factors could result in substantial weight gain. Almost 60% of obese people are said to have inherited this condition. There are several genetic conditions that also contribute or lead to weight gain. But this more often blamed as the cause and these are definitely reversible.

ENDOCRINE CAUSES

In rare cases, some may develop obesity secondary to certain hormonal disorders. This includes diseases like Cushing syndrome, hypothyroidism, hypogonadism in men and polycystic ovarian syndrome in women and hypothalamic lesions like tumours.

DRUGS

Certain drugs like steroids, sulfonylureas for diabetes, steroidal contraceptives and antiepileptics such as valproate may cause weight gain. Antipsychotics, antidepressants, mood stabilizers like lithium are also known to possess the same properties. Even certain unapproved medications for weight loss may cause increase in weight and hence not recommended.

PSYCHOLOGICAL CAUSES

Depression is most often associated with binge eating and may lead on accumulation of weight. The relationship between obesity and one's emotional set-up is now widely recognized. Over time this becomes a repetitive process and eventually leads to obesity.

DIETARY FACTORS

The food inflation may be high but still the world today is more affluent than it ever was, and people have access to a multitude of dietary options. People nowadays are also less active than their predecessors, however the calorific content of their diet hasn't decreased; instead it has increased. Diets around the world have drastically changed; we have transitioned from a high-protein, high-fat diet to a high-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. Moreover, the consumption of empty-calorie foods like alcohol, aerated drinks, candies, cookies, chocolates etc. has also risen sharply. All of this, coupled with a sedentary lifestyle, makes the ideal combination for susceptibility to obesity and diabetes.

HOW OBESITY CAN AFFECT YOU?

Obesity is rarely just a physiological problem. This disorder has far reaching effects; physiological, psychological and social. On the physical front, obesity can lead to several complications that could be fatal or incapacitating if left untreated. Some of the most common diseases that are directly and indirectly linked to obesity are: