Overview of Obesity

Obesity affects millions of individuals who often struggle with the effects of being severely overweight and finding effective and lasting weight loss options. More extreme than being overweight, obesity is a medical condition that occurs when excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may negatively impact the health of the individual. Obesity can be caused by a variety of factors and often leads to the development of many other serious health problems and a reduced life expectancy.

Overweight Man on Beach

Using Body Mass Index to Diagnose Obesity

Obesity is usually determined by calculating a person's body mass index (BMI), a measurement based upon height and weight. It measures the amount of weight in relation to the height of the individual.

BMI Classifications

  • BMI < 18.5: Underweight
  • 18.5 - 24.9: Desireable Weight
  • 25.0 - 29.9: Overweight
  • 30.0 - 39.9: Obesity
  • 40.0 - 49.9: Clinically Severe Obesity (Morbid Obesity)
  • BMI > 50.0: Super Obesity

Although the BMI does not account for an individual's fat to muscle ration, it is still considered an adequate indicator of obesity. Typically, a person is diagnosed as having obesity when they weigh 20% or more than the maximum ideal weight for their height and build.

In order to determine an individual's Body Mass Index (BMI), a BMI calculator uses the following formula: an individual gets the final calculation when their weight in kilograms is divided by their height in meters, squared. When the calculation has been completed, the number is compared with the BMI classification chart to determine weight status.

If one's BMI is 25 to 29.9, that individual is considered overweight yet not obese. The obesity range occurs from a BMI of 30 onward. An individual's weight may warrant surgery for weight loss if their BMI is equal to or greater than 40, or if their BMI is at least 35 with serious co-morbid conditions, such as type 2 diabetes or high blood pressure.

Using Waist Size to Diagnose Obesity

Obesity is sometimes calculated by measuring an individual's waist size as well. Individuals who have an increased waist size are also at risk for conditions associated with obesity. For example, men with a waist size of 40 inches and above and women with a waist size of 35 inches and above both fit into this category.

Causes of Obesity

In order to really understand what obesity is, it is first important to learn what causes obesity in so many individuals. Although the disease of obesity is complex, there are some known factors contributing to obesity.

The top causes contributing to obesity are:

  • Genetics
  • Dietary Patterns
  • Physical Activity
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Environment

One cause of obesity is said to be the result of an individual's genes. A number of studies have shown in the past that obesity is something that can run in the family. In other words, it is genetically linked. If an individual's parents, either one or both, have obesity, that individual is more likely to have obesity problems as well. However, it is important to state that simply because an individual has parents with obesity it does not mean that they will always become obese. It is just one of the factors that has been linked with obesity.

The metabolic rate of an individual is another determining factor when it comes to obesity. For those individuals who have a slower metabolism, they might have more of a battle with obesity than individuals with a faster metabolism as the food is being put to good use more quickly this way.

Another cause of obesity is the regular intake of too many calories, especially in the form of high-fat, high-calorie foods. Foods with high fat content are ones which, if eaten in large quantities, can lead to an excessive amount of weight. A good way in which to try and keep obesity a non-issue is to limit the amount of fatty foods one eats on a daily basis.

Lifestyle issues are also factors when it comes to obesity. Those individuals who live a more sedentary lifestyle may be more likely to become obese than those who spend their days running from place to place. It has been shown through studies that individuals who exercise for approximately ½ hour per day are much less likely to become obese than individuals who do not follow this exercise schedule.

Lastly, psychological reasons are ones which may lead to obesity in certain individuals. People who are depressed are more likely to overeat than individuals who are not. In addition, those who are depressed may also be less likely to exercise each day and adhere to a strict exercise regimen, as the depression can sometimes be overwhelming.

Health Consequences of Obesity

There are a number of reasons why obesity is such a concern for individuals and their health care professionals. Obesity not only prevents individuals from engaging in certain activities but it can lead to a number of serious health consequences as well.

It has become known that certain diseases can result from the condition of obesity. Some of these conditions and diseases include Type 2 diabetes, high blood triglycerides, high cholesterol, coronary heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure. If that weren't enough, some more diseases and conditions which have been said to correlate with obesity are gallbladder disease, osteoarthritis, gout, and sleep apnea.

There are certain deadly diseases such as cancer that are more likely to occur in people with obesity. Studies have shown that women with obesity are more likely than average weight women to have a higher rate of various cancers including gallbladder, breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical cancers. As for men, those with obesity are more likely to be diagnosed with rectal, colon and prostate cancers than men of average weight.

Not only does obesity cause physical health issues in individuals but mental and emotional health issues as well. Individuals with obesity may experience depression, rejection and loneliness as a result of their excess weight. Not only may they experience these conditions due to how they view themselves but how they feel others view them as well.

Obesity is a serious health concern for more and more individuals these days. In order to truly rid oneself of obesity or prevent obesity from occurring in the first place, it is a good idea to review the causes contributing to the condition and remind oneself what they can do to help prevent it or help rid oneself of this debilitating condition.