The American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery defines obesity as a disease in which fat has accumulated to the extent that health is impaired leading to increased health problems and reduced life expectancy.

Obesity is considered a multifactorial disease with a strong genetic component. Acting upon a genetic background are a number of hormonal, metabolic, psychological, cultural and behavioral factors that promote fat accumulation and weight gain.

The global method of calculating your obesity is BODY MASS INDEX.

Body Mass Index Is Calculated

Category BMI Range
Normal Size 16.5 to 22.4
Overweight 22.5 to 27.4
Class I, Obesity 27.5 to 32.4
Class II, Serious Obesity 32.5 to 37.4
Class III, Severe Obesity 37.5 and greater


Sometimes even though the overall BMI may be less, the fat is concentrated only over the abdomen( Truncal Obesity/Potbelly). This pattern of fat distribution is very harmful to health and therefore other parameters that are considered in such patients are:

  1. waist circumference: waist measuring more than 90 cm in males and 80 cm in females.
  2. waist hip ration(W/H): more than 1 in males and 0.8 in females.

                   Causes of Obesity

                 obesity and health problems

  • Energy Imbalance: Obesity happens gradually if the amount of energy or calories you consume is more than the amount of energy spent on your daily activities.
  • Poor Lifestyle: People leading an inactive or sedentary lifestyle are more likely to become obese as they do not burn down the calories they consume.
  • Environmental factors: Lack of safe places for exercising and walking (sidewalks or parks), busy work schedule, eating larger food portions, and junk food are contributing factors to gain weight.
  • Family history: The genes inherited from your parents have an effect the amount of fat stored in your body and your chances of being obese is higher if one or both your parents are obese. Obesity tends to run in families.
  • Disease conditions: Hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, and polycystic ovarian syndrome may cause weight gain.
  • Medicines:Certain medicines such as corticosteroids, antidepressants and seizure medications are known to decrease the rate of metabolism, increase your appetite and retain excess water in the body leading to weight gain.
  • Emotional factors: Unusual eating habits such as excessive eating when under stress or anger. Overeating will cause weight gain.
  • Age: Aging results in muscle loss in the body which is even more if you are inactive. Muscle loss reduces the calorie consumption and consequently uncontrolled diet may increase the chances of becoming obese.

Obesity and Health Problems

Major health consequences:

  • People affected by obesity or severe obesity are about 10 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor for high blood pressure and about 3 out of 4 hypertension cases are related to obesity.
  • Obese people are at higher risk for respiratory infections. Asthma has been shown to be three to four times more common among people with obesity.More than half of those affected by obesity (around 50-60 percent) have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) In cases of severe obesity, this figure is around 90 percent).
  • Obesity is believed to cause up to 90,000 cancer deaths per year. As body mass index (BMI) increases, so does your risk of cancer and death from cancer. Some of the common cancers include Endometrial cancer,Cervical cancer,Ovarian cancer,Postmenopausal breast cancer,Colorectal cancer,Esophageal cancer etc.
  • Obesity, in particular severe obesity, contributes to a number of bone and joint issues. These include, Joint diseases (osteoarthritis, gout),Disc herniation,Spinal disorders,Back pain.

Risks to psychological and social well-being:

  • Negative self-image
  • Social isolation
  • Discrimination

Difficulties with day-to-day living:

  • Difficult to carry normal day to day activities.
  • You tend to tire more quickly and feel fatigued very early.
  • Public transport seats, telephone booths, and cars may be too small for you
  • You may find it difficult to maintain personal hygiene and become more prone to skin infections.


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