What is obesity? Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have a negative effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems. In Western countries, people are considered obese when their body mass index (BMI), a measurement obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height, exceeds 30 kg/m2, with the range 25-30 kg/m2 defined as overweight. Some East Asian countries use stricter criteria.
The Risks Obesity increases the likelihood of various diseases, particularly heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnoea, certain types of cancer, and osteoarthritis. Evidence to support the view that some obese people eat little yet gain weight due to a slow metabolism is limited. On average, obese people have a greater energy expenditure than their thin counterparts due to the energy required to maintain an increased body mass. Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing rates in adults and children. Authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Obesity is stigmatized in much of the modern world (particularly in the Western world), though it was widely seen as a symbol of wealth and fertility at other times in history and still is in some parts of the world.In 2013, the American Medical Association classified obesity as a disease.
The Causes Obesity is most commonly caused by a combination of excessive food energy intake, lack of physical activity, and genetic susceptibility, although a few cases are caused primarily by genes, endocrine disorders, medications, or psychiatric illness. Obesity is generally caused by consuming more calories particularly those in fatty and sugary foods.
Treatments Dieting and exercising are the main treatments for obesity. Diet quality can be improved by reducing the consumption of energy-dense foods, such as those high in fat and sugars, and by increasing the intake of dietary fibre. With a suitable diet, anti-obesity drugs may be taken to reduce appetite or decrease fat absorption. If diet, exercise, and medication are not effective, a gastric balloon may assist with weight loss, or surgery may be performed to reduce stomach volume and/or bowel length, leading to feeling full earlier and a reduced ability to absorb nutrients from food. You may also benefit from psychological support from a trained healthcare professional, to help change the way you think about food and eating. If lifestyle changes alone don’t help you lose weight, medications may be recommended. If taken correctly, this medication works by reducing the amount of the fat you absorb during digestion. Your GP will know whether medication is suitable for you.