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Obesity: Meaning, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

Obesity: Meaning, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment & More

by Hibah Ahmad · December 26, 2020

Are you or anybody related to you facing obesity?

Obesity is a condition in which there is a high amount of fat deposition and it has more to it rather than just cosmetic concern.

Let us discuss what  is obesity, its causes, diagnosis and what can we do to control it.

1.

Obesity Meaning

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity in adults is defined as the BMI score of 30 or higher.

It drastically increases the chances of other serious illnesses including, diabetes, heart attack, fatty liver and cancer.

BMI used to identify obesity

Obese BMI

Obesity for adults above 20 years is classified as the following,

  • 18.5 BMI or under is classified as underweight
  • 18.5 to <25 BMI is classified as normal weight
  • 25 to <30 BMI is classified as overweight
  • 30 to <35 BMI is classified as class 1 obesity
  • 35 to <40 BMI is classified as class 2 obesity
  • 40 or over BMI is classified as class 3 obesity

Morbid Obesity

It is a condition defined as having BMI higher than 30 and sometimes also referred to as class 3 obesity.

When you eat, your food is used by the body for its functioning and your body still uses calories to pump heart and functioning of other organs even at rest.

But if the calories are not consumed then they are stored as fat by the body.

This process carries on and your body continues to build fat if your calories are not used by the body for daily activities and physical exercise.

Morbid obesity is classified as class 3 which is the highest amount of fat stored in the body.

Certain medications or medical conditions can lead to morbid obesity but these can managed so that they don’t result in obesity.

Childhood Obesity

The condition is defined as the child having weight way above the normal weight according to his age and height.

Though the causes for overweight are identical to those in adults such as eating attitudes and genetics.

However, it can also have a great impact of community as they can influence the ability to choose healthy eating habits.

2.

Causes of Obesity

Eating more and burning less calories in long term can eventually lead to obesity.

These calories  add up over time and turn in to fat deposits in different body parts, thus causing weight gain.

But the increased in take and reduced use of these calories are not the only reasons for obesity.

Girl facing difficulty due to unhealthy eating habits

Common Causes

While eating patterns no doubt affect the increase in your weight but other possible causes may include,

  • Genetics control the ability of your body to transform food into energy and the way it will be stored in your body. People with a family history of obesity face difficulty in maintaining weight suitable to their height and age.
  • Age can be an important factor because as we age our growth ceases and muscle mass decreases and it also slows down our metabolic rate which dramatically increase the chances of weight gain.
  • Lack of sleep can cause changes in hormones due to which you can feel more hungry and crave food higher in calories.
  • Pregnancy results in weight gain due to obvious reasons but getting rid of that fat can be difficult after giving birth and it may eventually lead to overweight.

What Diseases Cause Obesity?

Some other medical conditions can also lead to overweight, which may in turn be responsible for obesity.

These may include,

  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is condition resulting from an imbalance of  hormones in female reproductive system
  • Prader-Willi syndrome, is a rare disorder caused by the loss of gene function which results in extreme hunger.
  • Cushing syndrome is characterised as a disorder with high levels of stress hormones which may increase the appetite.
  • Under active thyroid is a condition in which the thyroid fails to produce enough of some very important hormones.
  • Osteoarthritis or other bone disorders may limit your activity thus reducing the chances for consumption of calories.

Illnesses Caused By Obesity

Obesity is not only a cosmetic concern, but it can also lead to certain other illnesses including,

  • Increased chances of heart attack
  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Cancers
  • Pancreatitis
  • Fatty liver
  • High cholesterol
  • Arthritis
  • Infertility
  • Breathing problems and sleep apnea
  • Not taking enough liquids

A higher body to fat ratio can result in strain on your bones and other organs. it is considered a risk factor for cancer as it also increases chances for inflammation.

How Does Obesity Cause Diabetes?

Obesity can also lead to diabetes and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the best predictor for diabetes is obesity.

Approximately 90% of the people having type 2 diabetes have over weight.

Diabetes due to overweight

But do you ever think why is it so?

It is because increased weight causes higher levels of fatty acids which result in insulin resistance in the body leading to type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is regarded as the most common type of diabetes and 90% of the population with diabetes has this type.

You can produce your own insulin in type 2 diabetes but usually it is not enough or the body cells build resistant against it and do not respond to it.

As a result, the body has increased sugar levels in blood.

3.

Obesity and Treatment

Do you have obesity and find it difficult to lose weight on your own?

One way to deal with it is knowing that there is medical help available for it.

Moreover, health and other allied health professions work as team to bring down your weight.

Let’s discuss more ways to treat it in detail below.

Dietician working a diet plan to treat obesity

Obesity Diagnosis

BMI is a rough way to calculate body to mass ratio whereas more precise measures for body fats include,

  • Tests for skin-fold thickness
  • Wait to hip measurements and their comparisons
  • Screening tests including MRI, CT scans or Ultrasounds

Your physician can also recommend a few more tests to keep a check on obesity related health risks,

  • Blood tests can be helpful in examining blood sugar levels and cholestrol
  • Tests for liver function
  • Screening for diabetes
  • Thyroid tests
  • ECG or EKG

Treatment for Obesity

How can we treat obesity?

You can start the treatment by simply going to your doctor who may then recommend you to a nutritionist in your area.

The other allied health professionals may work as a team for your weight loss and this team might include a doctor, therapist and a healthcare staff.

The professionals might guide you to make lifestyle and behavioural modifications or might recommend you medicines or surgery for weight loss.

Behavioral and Lifestyle Changes

The team of healthcare professionals can help you in opting good food and might form a healthy diet plan suitable for you.

Another step towards weight loss can be well designed work out plan and focus on increasing physical activity.

It will not only help in losing weight but also results in providing strength and better metabolism.

Counselling and self help support groups can also play a significant role in identifying unhealthy triggers and help you in coping with depression, anxiety and eating disorders.

Exercise to reduce weight

Behavioural and lifestyles changes are preferred of children and young adults, unless they are highly overweight.

Medicinal Prescription

Your doctor may also recommend certain medicines other than your diet plan but only if they weight loss methods fail to bring down your weight or your BMI is 27 causing other health related issues.

There two important benefits of medicine,

  1. It reduces absorption of fat
  2. Suppressed hunger

Medicines for obesity

Weight loss involves consumption of following medicines,

  • Phentermine/ Topiramate
  • Naltrexone/ Bupropion
  • Liraglitude
  • Orlistat (for children of 12 years age or older)

Weight Loss Surgery

The weight loss surgery basically focuses on limiting the food intake and preventing the body from absorbing fats whereas sometimes it may control both.

It’s not a simple surgery and have many other risk factor associated to it.

Even after going through a weight loss surgery, you still have to keep a check on the amount and type of your diet intake.

Types of surgeries for weight loss include,

  • Gastric bypass surgery involves creating a small pouch on your stomach which directly connects to your small intestine.
  • Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding (LAGB) involves division of you stomach into two pouches.
  • Gastric sleeve surgery involves the removal of a part of your stomach.
  • Biliopancreatic diversion includes removing most part of your stomach.

 

4.

Obesity Statistics

Has obesity increased overtime? Obesity has now outreached  epidemic proportions globally.

Along with the increase in global prevalence, the incidence of obesity has dramatically increased in children.

So, in order to obtain a more clearer view of current situation, let us look at statistics in detail below.

Incidence of obesity in world

According to new WHO global estimates,

  • As per a report, more than 1.9 billion people 18 and above were  obese in 2016 and 650 million out of these were adults.
  • If we talk about percentages than 39% of adults belonging to age 18 or above were obese (39% men and 40% women).
  • The statistics represented a tripled increase in obesity from 1975 to 2016 across the world.
  • In 2019, approximately 38.2 million children below 5 years were obese.

Mortality is more commonly reported in people with obesity than in underweight people. Moreover, the prevalence of obesity is greater than that of underweight and it is applicable to all  regions in the world except Sharan Africa and Asia.

 

5.

Risks of Obesity

It is possible to prevent obesity by knowing the risk factors responsible for it.

There are a number of risk factors that contribute to weight gain.

Let us just dive in and look at those factors briefly.

risk factors for obesity

The risk factors for obesity include the following,

1. Family History

However obesity can be inherited but there are increased chances of gaining weight for you as well, if your family has a history of overweight.

It is because of the fact that it solely doesn’t depend on the genes but it is also dependent on the similar eating patterns and choices of activities that run in family.

2. Social and Economic Issues

Social and economic factors may greatly affect your weight as the absence of safe places to walk around reduces the chances for weight loss.

Moreover, you can not choose healthy diets if people around you don’t know how to cook them.

According to researches, people having obese people around increases the chances for obesity as their eating habits might influence yours.

3. Smoking

Quitting can lead to increase in weight and in some people it might lead to obesity.

People use it as a coping mechanism to overcome their withdrawal symptoms.

However, therapy or self help group can help you learn better ways to cope with the side effects of quitting smoking.

4. Stress

Overweight can directly affect your well-being and psychological health.

Therefore, it is important to take proper help so it doesn’t lead to eating disorders as people tend to take high calorie diets after facing stress.

5. Yo-yo Dieting

It is referred to instant weight gain after reducing some weight and it contributes to more weight gain than the weight loss.

It results in slowing down your metabolism which can result in difficulty in weight loss.

Click here to check interesting facts about obesity.


Obesity can occur as a consequence of diseases and may further results in more diseases after gaining weight.

Therefore, it is important to choose healthy lifestyle and closely monitor your weight to avoid any complications.


Hope you got every answer to your question relate to obesity in this article. Don’t forget to leave feedback and suggestions.

Let me know in the comments section below that which part was the most interesting for you.

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