WHAT IS OBESITY?



Introduction

Are you aware that there is a link between your health and bodyweight? Which category you belong to-

  1. Underweight
  2. Normal Weight
  3. Overweight or
  4. Grossly overweight aka obese?

If you belong to the 3rd and 4th category, then this is the article for you. Because, in this article, I am going to discuss a very important topic- Obesity.

If you look around most of us are getting fatter or putting on weight by the day. Why is this happening? Have you ever wondered why many of us tend to put on those extra pounds or kilos as we age?

Well, there are many factors that make us put on excess fats in our body and that is exactly what we are going to learn here- the good, the bad and the ugly part of being fat.

Actually speaking, there is nothing good about being fat or obese, except possibly if you are a Sumo wrestler, who is selected to wrestle based on his/her looks and bodyweight.

Having said this, let’s jump on to the topic of this article- Obesity.

What is obesity?

Obesity is a medical condition characterized by excess body fat accumulation. It is typically determined by measuring body mass index (BMI), which is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.

Obesity is considered a serious health concern and can increase the risk of various health conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and respiratory issues.

It is often caused by a combination of genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors such as unhealthy eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, and lack of physical activity.

Why is it important to learn about obesity?

Understanding obesity is important because of its significant health issues that affect millions of individuals worldwide.

It is crucial to learn about obesity to grasp its impact on physical and mental well-being, its association with various chronic diseases, and the importance of adopting healthy lifestyle choices to prevent and manage obesity. (I have mentioned a few of the health issues in this article with a hyperlink to articles for your reference)

By educating ourselves about obesity, we can make informed decisions about our diet, exercise, and overall health, leading to a better quality of life.

What are different types of obesity that we encounter and their demographic relevance?

There are several types of obesity that we encounter, each with its demographic relevance:

Visceral obesity: This type of obesity is characterized by excessive fat accumulation around the organs in the abdominal cavity. It is more common in middle-aged men and postmenopausal women.

Android obesity: Also known as apple-shaped obesity, it refers to excess fat accumulation in the upper body, particularly around the abdomen and the torso.

It is more prevalent in men and is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Gynoid obesity: Also known as pear-shaped obesity, it involves excess fat accumulation in the lower body, particularly around the hips and thighs.

It is more common in women and generally poses a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases compared to android obesity.

Childhood obesity: This type of obesity affects children and adolescents, usually due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors. It can have long-term health implications if not addressed in the early stages.

Socioeconomic obesity: This refers to the correlation between obesity and socioeconomic factors such as income, education level, and occupation.

Lower socioeconomic status is often associated with a higher prevalence of obesity.

Ethnic and racial obesity: Certain ethnic and racial groups may have a higher susceptibility to obesity due to genetic and cultural factors.

For example, some studies indicate that African Americans and Hispanics have a higher prevalence of obesity compared to Caucasians.

Remember that obesity is a complex issue influenced by various factors, and individual experiences may vary.

Stages of obesity using BMI as the measuring unit

Have a look at this table about different weight groups differentiated by body mass index:

Weight GroupBody Mass Index (BMI) Range
UnderweightLess than 18.5
Ideal Bodyweight18.5 – 24.9
Overweight25.0 – 29.9
Obese30.0 – 34.9
Morbidly Obese35.0 and above
Stages from being underweight to obesity using BMI

Our concern begins when we reach a BMI above 25kg per square meter, and we should work to bring it below 25 so as to avoid the after-effects of excessive weight.

What is morbid obesity?

Morbid obesity is a severe form of obesity characterized by a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher. It poses significant health risks and can lead to various medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, severe osteoarthritis, and sleep apnea.

For example, a person who is 5’6 tall and weighs 300 pounds would be considered morbidly obese.

Calculate your BMI here-

BMI Calculator – Body Mass Index

Can we manage to reverse obesity?

It is not easy to reverse obesity totally. However, there are ways to reduce body weight and body fat, especially visceral fat.

Managing obesity typically involves a combination of many things like

  • dietary changes,
  • increased physical activity,
  • behavior modifications, and
  • in some cases, medical intervention like liposuction surgery and bariatric surgery.

Today’s day-to-day life revolves around eating fast food (which has loads of calories in it) and a sedentary lifestyle (wherein we tend to sit more and walk less for e.g., using vehicles for short-distance travel, sitting more in front of computers, etc.). We tend to eat less healthy food (a balanced diet) which used to keep our ancestors fit and trim.

Interesting read: Which is Better- More Exercise or Less Sitting

Walk a lot

Walking to work was the norm in the past. This new lifestyle of relative inactivity and eating junk food adds more than necessary calories to our body.

This gets converted into fats surrounding different parts of our body like our abdomen (trunks), hips(buttocks), blood vessels (arteries of heart) etc.

This in turn make us

  • look shapeless and ugly,
  • breathless while
    • walking,
    • climbing stairs,
  • developing high blood pressure and conditions like diabetes.

This condition is called OBESITY.

How does obesity affect our health?

Obesity can lead to various health issues such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, certain types of cancer, and sleep apnea.

Some of the common conditions that obesity can lead to are: –

1) Hypertension (high B. P.)

2)Diabetes

3)Osteoarthritis of knees

4] Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver disease [NFLD]

and so on and so forth.

These illnesses can lead to expenses that cannot be foretold but at the same time are avoidable. Have a look at the picture shown below- it shows you all the effects Obesity has on different parts of our body.

Image showing side-effects of obesity
Effects of obesity on various body parts

In my next post, I will be discussing the different parameters of obesity and the ways to tackle it.

Conclusion

Obesity is spreading as a disease of concern like an epidemic in developed as well as developing nations. Learning about it can help us live a healthy life. Helping someone who is obese by teaching them about their condition can also contribute to their better health.

Final Thoughts

I guess that after reading this article, you must have gained some useful insights on obesity, what it is and how you should approach it so as to manage it.

In my preceding articles, I will write in detail on other aspects of this ‘modern day disease.

Healthy Lifestyle Leads to a Healthy Life and this can be done by Maintaining an Optimum Body Weight. Click To Tweet