Obesity has been arbitrarily interchanged with overweight. However, at the medical point of view they are supposed to be defined differently. The term obesity refers to the medical condition where there is an accumulation of excess body fat. Being overweight may refer to the inappropriate or too much weight for oneâ€™s height. Additionally, being overweight may due to other structures in the body such as the muscle and the bone rather than fats.
Overweight can also be a â€œpre-obesityâ€ stage in a standard classification, but the risks of associated diseases increase as an individual became categorized as obese. The excess fat build-up associated with obesity may cause adverse health effects where in many cases can lead to other metabolic, cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Thus, obesity may reduce the life expectancy of an individual.
To further define obesity, a crude population measure known as the body mass index (BMI) is used. It is done by comparing weight with height and by a standard table, the level of obesity can be determined.
Here Is the Formula for Calculating BMI:
[box type=”important”]BMI = weight in kilograms Ã· height in meters2[/box]
The BMI of an individual is correlated to the total body fat and percentage body fat. The result of oneâ€™s BMI is categorized and classified using the standard table below:
Â BMI Classification
|18.5 â€“ 24.9||Normal weight|
|25 â€“ 29.9||Overweight|
|30 â€“ 34.9||Class I obesity|
|35 â€“ 39.9||Class II obesity|
|>40||Class III obesity|
Further classification of class III obesity has been broken down into categories, though the exact values remain under investigation.
Class III Obesity
|AnyÂ >35 or 40||Severe obesity|
|A BMI ofÂ >35 or 40-44.9 or 49.9||Morbid obesity|
|A BMI ofÂ >45 or 50||Super obesity|
The fat distribution of an individual can also be assessed using the waist-hip ratio (WHR). In WHR, the body fat distribution determines the associated risk for health problems such as diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart disease. Below is a chart that determines the body fat distribution according waist-hip ratio and their associated health risks.
Waist-Hip Ratio Vs. Health Risk
|MALE||FEMALE||Health Risk Based Solely on WHR|
|0.95 or below||0.80 or below||Low risk|
|0.96 to 1.0||0.81 to 0.85||Moderate Risk|
To measure waist-hip ratio, the waist circumference at a level midway between the lowest rib and the iliac crest is determined. Then, the hip circumference at the level of the great trochanters with the legs close together is determined. The waist circumference is divided by the hip circumference and equals to waist-hip ratio.
The Health Risks of Obesity
While a lot of people may have considered obesity to be just disfiguring cosmetic issue, the real problem of being obese is the risks it poses on oneâ€™s health. As mentioned earlier, there are other diseases directly associated with obesity.
[box type=”important”]These diseases cause approximately 300,000 deaths annually in the US alone. It has also been observed that the life expectancy of people with BMI over 40 is significantly reduced.[/box]
Chronic Diseases Associated with Obesity:
- Diabetes â€“ the adult onset or type 2 diabetes mellitus
- Hypercholesterolemia â€“ or high cholesterol levels in the blood
- Hypertension â€“ also known as high blood pressure
- Cerborvascular accident â€“ or stroke
- Coronary heart disease â€“ or cholesterol build up in the blood vessels of the heart
- Insulin resistance â€“ insulin maintains the normal blood glucose levels. In this disease, the effectiveness of insulin is diminished. It is also a pre-diabetes condition.
- Congestive heart failure
- Osteoarthritis â€“ inflammation of the joints, due to pressure points from excessive weight
- Sleep apnea
- Cancer â€“ though inconclusive, studies have shown that obesity is associated with colon cancer, rectal cancer, prostate cancer, cancer of the gallbladder, cancer of the uterus, and breast cancer.
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The Causes of Obesity
Obesity may root from both lifestyle and genetics. It is usually the interplay of the two factors that bring about the excessive fat gain; thus, obesity. An individual usually eat more than his/her body needs, exercise less, and practice a sedentary lifestyle. The metabolism of a person greatly adds to the factors to be considered. A person who eats more and acquire more calories than he can metabolize, will gain stored energy. Our body stores calories as fats. Additionally, if a person is genetically predisposed to having a heavy built, he/she can likely to become obese. To sum it up, hereditary predisposition together with overeating and less physical activity are the main causes of obesity.
Other causes of obesity can be due to certain organic diseases, such as hypothyroidism, Cushingâ€™s syndrome, polycystic ovary syndrome, and insulin resistance.
Medications Associated with Obesity
Certain medication can also be associated with obesity and weight gain. Among these drugs include: antidepressants, anti-seizure such as Carbamazepine and Valproate, hypoglycemic (drugs that lower blood sugar) such as Sulfonylureas, certain oral contraceptives, corticosteroids such as Prednisone, certain anti-hypertensive drugs and antihistamines. Â Other medication that can cause significant weight gain include antipsychotic drugs which are used for people with Schizophrenia or Bipolar disorder such as Olanzapine, Clozapine, and Risperdal.
Gender-wise, women are more prone to become obese than men. The fat distribution among women is more prominent than among men; and women are less muscular than men. The muscles greatly help in burning calories than any other tissues in the body, thatâ€™s why men have this advantage over women. Moreover, the hormones of pregnancy and the use of oral contraceptives in women add to the factors of weight gain.
Ethnicity also has its bearing on obesity. It has been observed that African American women and Hispanic women are more prone to experience weight gain earlier in life than Asians and Caucasians. On the other hand, Hispanic men are observed to be obese earlier in life than Caucasian and African American men.
Treatments for Obesity
Although dieting and physical exercise are the most obvious remedy to obesity, other weight loss programs are now being practiced alongside with medical treatments. One of the most popular medications that is approved for long term use and currently widely available is Orlistat. Diet programs create a short term effect on weight loss unless they are successfully combined with religious exercise and medical regimen. The desired results usually take longer than expected to some, if not most, obese people.
Bariatirc surgery or weight loss surgery is considered the most effective treatment for obesity. The objective of bariatrics is long-term weight loss and decreased overall mortality. There are different techniques available to provide the best results. This procedure is combined with a program that consists of dieting, exercise and regular follow-ups with the surgeon. Though quite costly, the desired result is achievable in a much shorter period of time compared to the usual diet-exercise-medical regimen. The associated risks are minimized when the best bariatric technique is chosen and the entire bariatric program is adhered to accordingly.
Since most of the causes are associated with eating habits and lack of exercise, lifestyle modification considerably help in the prevention of obesity. People with much associated risk factors can start following a healthy way of living by exercise and dieting. The ideal body weight should be maintained in order to avoid getting into the â€œoverweightâ€ bracket that is considered to be a prelude to obesity.
The prevention is not a short term fix but should be observed as a life-long process. Avoiding unhealthy foods and throwing away a sedentary lifestyle can greatly add to the prevention of obesity. The goal of maintaining the ideal body weight should always be kept in mind. There should be an inner determination to get away from gaining unnecessary weight in order to totally prevent obesity and live a more healthy and productive life.