What is obesity?
Obesity is technically an excess of adipose tissue and it is most commonly measured in terms of Body Mass Index (BMI). Obesity can lead to secondary conditions such as type 2 diabetes because it increases the levels of fatty acids circulating in the body, and it also increases the likelihood of inflammation which can lead to insulin resistance. It also significantly increases your likelihood to suffer from coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, sleep apnea and a host of other conditions.
In most countries, BMI is calculated by taking their weight (in kilograms) divided by their height (in meters squared). In the USA, a person's BMI is basically their weight (in lbs) divided by their height (in inches squared) and then multiplied by 704.5.
A person is considered to be overweight if their BMI is between 24.5 and 29.9. Anything above that is considered obese.
There are also other ways to determine if someone is overweight or obese. Look at your waist measurement. Some don't consider BMI an ideal way to measure it as it doesn't take into account that a person may be very muscly or pregnant. But is easy to determine and generally gives people an indication of whether they should be concerned. They can always consult their doctor to get another opinion.
Obesity is a very common disease, with more than one third of American adults suffering from it. Around 69 percent of US adults are considered overweight or obese.
What causes people to become overweight or obese?
The National Institute of Health considers it basically a problem of people taking in more energy (i.e. food and drinks) than they need given their energy use. So, factors such as a sedentary lifestyle with not enough exercise contribute to this condition. Studies of identical twins have shown that there are also some genetic factors at play in that you are more likely to become overweight if your parents are also overweight. But these factors can be overcome by the adoption of healthier lifestyles.
In some cases, hormonal problems may cause a person to become overweight and obesity. Similarly some medications can cause weight gain.
Some people eat more when they are stressed. Some also gain weight when they quit smoking. But as smoking is a serious health risk, continuing smoking is not justified based on a fear of gaining weight.
People tend to gain weight as they age, but often this is because they have also reduced the amount of exercise they get.
Research has also shown that depriving yourself of enough sleep increases your likelihood to gain weight.
Disclaimer: The statements made on this page have not been evaluated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. If a condition persists, please contact your physician or healthcare provider. The information provided is not a substitute for a face-to-face consultation with a healthcare provider, and should not be construed as medical advice.