Being overweight is not the same as being obese, although it is just a step away. Obesity is the accumulation and storage of fat by the body in immoderate amounts. In simple terms, obesity is having much more body fat than what is considered healthy. Although in some parts of the world (mostly Africa), being plump and overweight is regarded as a sign of wealth and well-being; in western countries, being overweight and obese is seen as a leading cause of preventable death and thus named an epidemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). A recent study by the McKinsey Global Institute stipulates that being overweight and obese cost global economies $2 trillion annually to treat, and this figure is equal to the combined impact of violent crimes, war, and terrorism.
Types of Obesity
- Type I – This is the type of obesity caused by personal choices and unhealthy lifestyles.
- Type II – This type is caused by medical conditions or medications and accounts for only 1% of the total obesity cases.
Symptoms of Obesity
The symptoms of obesity are mostly physical: tighter clothes, larger waist circumference, etc.
Causes of Obesity
Obesity is a genetic disease but may be caused by some other factors which include:
- Excessive intake of alcohol
- Eating more food than the normal body requirements
- Consuming junk foods and sugary drinks
- Lack of/inadequate exercises
- Insufficient sleep
- Tension and anxiety
- Hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland caused by insufficient production of thyroid hormones)
- Medications such as contraceptives, anti-depressants, etc.
Complications Resulting from Obesity
The complications resulting from obesity may be grouped into two: medical complications, and psycho-social problems. The medical complications generally reduce life expectancy by a couple of years, and they include:
- Liver diseases
- High cholesterol
- Joint problems and stroke
- Heart attack or failure
- High blood pressure (High BP)
- Coronary artery disease
- Sleep apnea
- Kidney failure
- Type II diabetes
- Certain types of cancers (prostate and intestine in men, uterine and breast in women)
Some of the psycho-social problems associated with obesity include:
- Low self-esteem
- Vulnerability to discrimination and bullying
- Reduced life quality
Diagnoses of Obesity
There is no definite way to diagnose obesity since its symptoms are physical, but there are two ways of assessing your weight, these include:
- Body Mass Index (BMI) – This is just a simple mathematical calculation that checks if a person is overweight and obese using the individual’s height and weight.
- Waist circumference (in inches)
Classes of Obesity
The normal BMI is between 18.5 and 24.99 and the overweight category is between 25 and 29.99. BMIs greater than 29.99 are categorized as obesity and they make up the different classes of obesity which are:
- Class I: BMI range: 30–34.99
- Class II: BMI range: 35–39.99
- Class III: BMI range: >40
Treatment of Obesity
There are three major treatments of obesity. They are:
- Change of lifestyle: Avoiding alcohol and fatty foods or fast foods. Eating more of fruits, veggies, and little quantities of proper diets. Exercising is also recommended for proper body functions and for promoting healthy organs.
- Medications and supplements: Such as appetite suppressants among other prescribed medications.
- Surgery: Removal of excess fat from the body and reduction of stomach size. This is usually done in extreme cases.
Encouragement during the fat loss period of exercising and dieting cannot be overemphasized, so it is necessary to join support groups and have a trainer or see a psychologist during the process. Furthermore, medications and surgery also work effectively when combined with exercising and dieting.