Obesity is the nominal form of obese which comes from the Latin obēsus, which means “stout, fat, or plump.” Ēsus is the past participle of edere (to eat), with ob added to it.
Obesity is a condition in which the natural energy reserve, stored in the fatty tissues of humans and other mammals, is increased to a point where it is associated with certain health conditions or increased mortality. It becomes a cosmetic issue too and people yearn for weight loss.
Obesity is both an individual clinical condition and is increasingly viewed as a serious public health problem. Excessive body weight has been shown to predispose people to various diseases.
Being obese and being overweight is not exactly the same thing. An obese person has a large amount of extra body fat, not just a few extra pounds. People who are obese are very overweight and at risk for serious health problems.
Obesity is typically evaluated by measuring BMI (Body mass index), waist circumference and risk factor evaluation.
Body mass index is the most simple and useful index to estimate body fat. It is calculated as follows:
BMI = Weight in Kilograms / Square of height in meters.
So BMI = Kg / square ms.
or BMI = Weight (lbs) * 703 / height (inches)2
BMI is indexed as follows for reference:
BMI < 18.5 = Underweight
BMI 18.5 – 24.9 = Normal weight
BMI 25 – 29.9 = Overweight
BMI 30 – 39.9 = Obese
BMI > 40 = Severely obese
Some other useful weight loss tools for you:
With day to day advancements and better understanding, it has become clear that visceral fat or central obesity (male type or apple type obesity) has a stronger relation with cardio-vascular diseases. BMI does not take into account the adipose and lean ratios.
The absolute waist circumference ( > 102 cm in men and > 88 in women) or waist – hip ratio (>0.9 for men and >0.85 for women) are a measure of central obesity.
Body fat measurement
It is considered that men with more then 25% and women with 30% more body fat are obese. For the correct assessment, either skin fold thickness test or under water weighing could be done.
Other measurements could be done by CT or MRI.
Causes of Obesity
When food energy intake exceeds energy expenditure, fat cells (and also to some extent muscle and liver cells) throughout the body take in the energy and store it as fat. So when the energy consumption exceeds the requirement, it causes obesity.
Additional factors causing obesity
- Genetic disorders
- Underlying illness (such as hypothyroidism)
- Eating disorders (such as Binge eating disorder)
- Certain medications (such as anti-psycotics)
- Sedentary lifestyle
- A high glycemic diet
- Insufficient sleep
- Sudden smoking cessation
- Weight cycling – repeated attempts to do dieting to lose weight
Genetic factors play an important role in determining the traits of obesity and also rate of weight loss. Some genes play the role to telling the body how to metabolize food and to use extra calories or stored fat.
Obesity runs in families as generally families eat similar foods, have similar lifestyle habits and thinking patterns, such as that children should eat more to become big and healthy.
Certain illnesses like thyroid gland problems or genetic diseases run in families.
Some eating disorders like Binge eating disorder affect a person’s diet as he eats more and repeatedly often in binges. These people generally lack the developed eating patterns learned in childhood.
It is also to be remembered that obesity is not the result of momentary overeating. It is a long term phenomenon because people tend to overeat over long periods of time.
Emotions can fuel obesity, as people tend to eat more when they are upset, anxious, sad, stressed or even bored. Afterwards they feel bad about eating more, and later to relieve this stress, they may eat even more.
Sedentary lifestyle is another important factor as people tend to eat more when they are doing nothing and just sitting idly watching TV or video games. Cars dominate our life and we seldom walk or exercise. There is less time to cook healthy food and we often tend to eat fast foods.
Since the mid-seventies, the prevalence of being overweight and of obesity in United States have increased sharply for both adults and children. Data from two NHANES surveys show that among adults aged 20–74 years the prevalence of obesity increased from 15.0% (in the 1976–1980 survey) to 32.9% (in the 2003–2004 survey). The global average stands at 14.1% with United States of America, Mexico, United Kingdom, Slovakia, Greece, Australia, New Zealand, Hungary, Luxembourg, Czech Republic standing out as the most obese nations.
The two surveys also show increase in weight among children and teens. For children aged 2–5 years, the prevalence of being overweight increased from 5.0% to 13.9%; for those aged 6–11 years, prevalence increased from 6.5% to 18.8%; and for those aged 12–19 years, prevalence increased from 5.0% to 17.4%.
These increasing rates raise concern because of their implications for Americans’ health. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions, including the following:
* Dyslipidemia (for example, high total cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides)
* Type 2 diabetes
* Coronary heart disease
* Gallbladder disease
* Sleep apnea and respiratory problems
* Some cancers (endometrial, breast, and colon)
American Obesity Rates have reached epidemic proportions.
* 58 Million overweight; 40 Million Obese; 3 million morbidly obese.
* Eight out of 10 people over the age of 25 are overweight.
* 78% of American’s not meeting basic activity level recommendations.
* 76% increase in Type II diabetes in adults 30-40 yrs old since 1990.
Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that affects children and adolescents. It occurs when a child is well above the normal weight for his or her age and height. Childhood obesity is particularly troubling because the extra pounds often push children on the path to health problems that were once confined to adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Childhood obesity can also lead to poor self-esteem and depression. One of the best strategies to reduce childhood obesity is to improve the diet and exercise habits of your entire family.
Types of Obesity
The fat distribution in the body is identified among the two types of obesity android &gynoid.
Android: – Android type of obesity is likened to the shape of an apple. The shoulders, face, arms, neck, chest & upper portion of the abdomen are bloated. The stomach gives a stiff appearance, as well as the arms, shoulders and breasts. The back seems to be erect but the neck is compressed and there will be a protruding chest because of the bulk in the stomach. The lower portion of the body — the hips, thighs and legs are thinner beyond proportion in comparison with the upper part. In these persons the vital organs affected will be mostly the heart, liver, kidneys & lungs. Though this type of obesity is found more in males it is common in females too. Those females, who are under hormone treatment for their menstrual abnormalities or after childbirth, are more prone to this type of obesity. It occurs in females around menopause too due to thyroid gland’s functional disturbance. In this type, the excess flesh is less likely to reduce especially in female than males. Android type of obesity is a major risk for heart damage and heart disease due to high cholesterol.
Gynoid: – In this type the lower part of the body has the extra flesh. This type of obesity is also common to both sexes though females are more affected. Gynoid type of obesity is similar to pears. The flesh is somewhat flabby in the abdomen, thighs, buttocks and legs. The face and neck mostly give a normal appearance. In some persons, the cheeks may be drawn too. As these persons grow old the whole figure assumes a stooping posture and the spine is never erect due to the heavy hips and thighs. This vital organs affected mostly are the kidneys, uterus, intestines, bladder & bowels. But the functions of these organs some times have a direct effect on the heart. In this type of obesity, exercises or dieting will not help appreciably in reducing weight.
The third type: – Besides android and gynoid, there is one more type of obesity. Some people do not belong to any of the above type of obesity. Their whole body from head to toe looks like a barrel. Their gait is more to rolling rather than walking. The fat tissues in their body hinder the movement of all the internal organs and consequently affect their brisk functioning. For them any exercise is difficult due to the enormous size of the body. So such person should follow a strict diet and do plenty of exercise.
Health problems associated with obesity
Obesity increases the risk of developing disease. Obese people are more than twice as likely to develop hypertension. The risk of medical complications, particularly heart disease, increases when body fat is distributed around the waist, especially in the abdomen. This type of upper body fat distribution is more common in men then women.
Obese women are at nearly twice the risk for developing breast cancer, and all obese people have a 42 percent higher chance of developing colorectal cancer.
Almost 80 percent of patients with Type 2 diabetes mellitus, also known as non-insulin -dependent diabetes mellitus, are obese.
Obese people also experience social and psychological problems. Stereotypes about “fat” people often translate into discriminatory practices in education, employment, and social relationships. The consequences of being obese in a world preoccupied with being thin are especially severe for women, whose appearances are often judged against an ideal of exaggerated slenderness.
The presence of risk factors and diseases associated with obesity are also used to establish a clinical diagnosis .Coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes mellitus and sleep apnea , are possible life-threatening risk factors that would indicate clinical treatment of obesity. Smoking, hypertension, age and family history are other risk factors that may indicate treatment. Diabetes and heart disease are risk factors used in epidemiological studies of obesity.
Obesity is bad news for both body and mind. Not only does it make a person feel tired and uncomfortable, it can wear down joints and put extra stress on other parts of the body. When a person is carrying extra weight, it’s harder to keep up with friends, play sports, or just walk between classes at school. It is also associated with breathing problems such as asthma and sleep apnea and problems with hips and knee joints that may require surgery.
In addition to other potential problems, people who are obese are more likely to be depressed. That can start a vicious cycle: When people are overweight, they may feel sad or even angry and eat to make themselves feel better. Then they feel worse for eating again. And when someone feels depressed, the person is less likely to go out and exercise.